shelling of Khmeimim revealed gaps in the "second ring" of defense

The Russian bases of Tartus and Khemeymim in Syria are reliably protected from powerful missile and bomb strikes from the sea and land, but they were vulnerable to attacks by subversive groups of militants.

Back in Afghanistan three levels of protection were created to protect Soviet airbases. The attack of terrorists on the base of Khmeimim revealed a gap at the second level, which must be urgently liquidated. 

The zone around the airbase Khemeymim was cleaned and expanded after the shelling, now it will be guarded by Russian, not Syrian, military, a source in the Defense Ministry said. In the meantime, the Syrian security forces continue the operation to "search and destroy the militants involved in the attack," the department added.

Recall, on December 31, a "mobile sabotage group" of terrorists shelled the military base of Khmeimim from mortars. According to the Ministry of Defense, two servicemen were killed. In addition, the media reported on the "actual destruction" by militants of seven Russian military aircraft at the air base. However, the Ministry of Defense denied this information. Meanwhile, military correspondent Roman Saponkov on Thursday published photographs of Russian aircraft damaged in mortar shelling. "Yet the technology has suffered. Pre-six Su-24, one Su-35S, one An-72, one An-30 scout, one Mi-8. Two Su-24 and Su-35S were put into operation, "he wrote on his page in VKontakte. 
Three Cover Areas

To protect our bases from the ground, the territory at the range of the mortar shot should be blocked by patrols and other units, the former commander of the 4th air army of the Air Force and Air Defense, Lieutenant-General Valery Gorbenko, commented to the newspaper VZGLYAD. However, "it is not so easy with a 100% chance to close this space. The base occupies a huge area, "the expert pointed out, noting that one runway costs. In his opinion, all the roads to the base are controlled. However, near the base there are settlements, from which they can shoot. 

To cover the base on the ground within a radius of 10 km or at least 5 km from it, a large number of military contingent is needed, 

Gorbenko added.

The first vice-president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Doctor of Military Sciences, captain of the 1st rank of reserve Konstantin Sivkov, in an interview with the newspaper VZGLYAD explained: there are three areas of cover for such facilities as the military base. The first zone of self-defense provides cover from attacks by small arms at a distance of 1.5-2 km. The middle zone is a zone of protection from heavy weapons, infantry, mortar shelling. The depth of its cover usually ranges from 8 to 10 km. The third, distant, zone covers from heavy weapons, artillery systems of long range. It provides protection at a distance of 30-40 km, depending on the forces of the enemy.

Based on the events in Khmeimim, we can say that the third zone of self-defense is undoubtedly covered. But already in the middle zone there are serious gaps. This allowed the enemy to carry out mortar shelling on our base, the expert noted. 

There is evidence that an airplane-flying military hospital Il-76MD "Scalpel-MT" was sent to Khmeimim. But he could not land. "This indicates that the shooting was carried out not only mortars, but also artillery, as a result of which, apparently, the runway was damaged which prevented the plane from landing," the expert said. Damage to the strip is already "a serious threat to our base", because the aircraft of the front-line aviation Su-24, Su-25, Su-34, Su-35 will not be able to actively operate there, Sivkov added.
In his opinion, a "fairly serious artillery strike" was inflicted on the base, with two people being victims, with a significant number of wounded. Most likely, the blow was being struck across the squares, not aimed, and those who were on guard posts near the location of combat aircraft suffered, said Sivkov. 
With the base in Tartous, the same situation as with Khemeymim, the expert added. "We built a defense system there, oriented to protection from the regular army, that is, powerful air force strikes from the sea and land," Sivkov pointed out. He recalled that there are guarding complexes of air defense / missile defense system S-300, S-400 and others. So, for example, the "Pantsir" system destroys even such goals that the Patriot complex in the United States can not do. So "our air defense system there is quite effective", - the interlocutor pointed out.

However, if we talk about a system of protection against the actions of various militant groups, their subversive and reconnaissance groups, the situation showed that it is "not effective enough," the expert stressed. 

The Afghan experience. 

The military pilot, the Air Force Colonel, Hero of Russia Valentin Padalka, in an interview with the newspaper VZGLYAD also recalled three levels of protection, which was used, for example, in Afghanistan. 

"Kabul and all our air units, military units were organized by security up to the triple ring with different removals from the center of this facility," the expert said. He also said that the first ring could have a radius of about 1 km, the second one - 5 km, the third - around 10 km in radius. In addition, there must be mobile teams that respond quickly to such provocations.

In Khmeimim, the militants, apparently, "reached" the territory, where parking spaces are already located, office space and, possibly, a runway, the interlocutor noted. The radius of mortar shelling is usually 3-4 km, maximum up to 5 km. It turns out that protection in the ring at a distance of 3-5 km from the center of the base "was organized unreliably," Padalka stressed. 

But there must be an "absolutely clean zone." Because it is the reach of such weapons as small arms, mortar, which is very difficult to counteract. This is not a missile, for the defeat of which it is possible to use air defenses, "the expert said.

Padalka stressed that within a radius of 5 km there should be "no movement, incomprehensible unidentified people." "Everything should be 100% pure. It's blood from the nose, "Padalka said. Otherwise, the militants may, if they have portable SAMs, enter this zone from the car and release, for example, a missile on a take-off or landing aircraft, the interlocutor did not exclude. 

So the bases of Bagram and Kabul in Afghanistan were guarded from posts around the perimeter around the airfield at various distances, Padalka said. Considered different heights, even a mound, which was already a preferred place for a security shelter, from where you can observe. 

Where it was impossible to put a person, the territory was mined if necessary.

In addition, at night the helicopters monitored the situation, tracked the movement of suspicious cars and destroyed them. "You need to spend it, not sparing your strength, and sometimes - material means. In no case can you save, "Padalka said. After all, we are talking about the location of personnel, expensive equipment and a runway, he said. 

As a result, the Khmeimim base is protected from the point of view of rocket fire, which can be made from a distance of 5 km or more, but a short distance, less than 5 km, is vulnerable. "A lot of types of weapons can cause such harm," the expert said. 

Support for foreign intelligence?

According to Sivkov, it's not worth to limit yourself to five kilometers. To ensure the reliability of the base, "it is necessary to have a defense system that would have a depth of at least 10 kilometers in radius from our base," the expert said. He also stressed the need to constantly carry out patrols there by helicopter gunships, to have a developed intelligence system that would allow timely detection of the approach of terrorist fighters and deliver a preemptive strike against them.

The shelling of the base indicates that the enemy is still being attacked by the methods of guerrilla warfare. IGIL * is destroyed as an organization, but the bandit formations have remained, and with them the struggle is not over, stressed Sivkov. Moreover, "the imposition of such strikes, especially with the use of artillery, without the support of foreign special services, primarily American, is impossible," the expert asserts. "The fact that the US has taken the course to expel Russia from Syria by supporting militias is being watched." 

This support is provided by the United States through an intelligence system, primarily the space one, "which is quite powerful there." In addition, the States provide their "wards" with ammunition, Sivkov pointed out. 

Protection will be improved.

As for the technical losses during the shelling of the base, Gorbenko noted that if seven planes were hurt, as the media write, then "this is significant." However, it all depends on what kind of aircraft they are, and on the degree of their damage. It is possible that damaged equipment can be repaired by engineers and technicians on their own within a day or a few days, the interlocutor noted.

Sivkov, meanwhile, pointed out that a few days after the bombardment of aircraft damage is not eliminated, this means that they are significant enough. Meanwhile, according to Valentin Padalka, we can make up for any damage. Russia is "a large country that has serious armed forces, a very good production base," the expert said. However, he urged not to rush to conclusions about the allegedly damaged seven units of aviation equipment, but to trust more reliable sources, that is, to wait for official information.

Experts are sure that after the incident with the airbase Khmeimim the system of protection of our bases in Syria will be improved. So, Gorbenko reminded that earlier, since the Russian military security services started the operation in Syria, similar shelling of the base did not happen. Now the Russian command "will review what is missing in the security system, draw conclusions and strengthen it," Gorbenko summed up.