US, Israel send secret military group to train against S-300 defense system
Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV (AFP/File)
Israel and the United States both sent secret military delegations to Ukraine to apparently train against the Russian-crafted S-300 missile defense system -- the same one recently procured to Syria, Israeli news channel Hadashot TV reported Monday on the basis of Syrian and Russian news outlets.
While neither the US nor Israel commented on the matter, the reports reveal that both American and Israeli military personnel are working to test the system through instruction from their Ukrainian counterparts. Israeli pilots were said to be on-site though it was not clear whether they were flying some of F-15 planes that were practicing against the system.
Russia and the Ukraine have been on bad terms since the former's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Israeli Air Force pilots have trained against the system in Greece as far back as 2007, and it is known that both the US and Israel has employed stealth aircraft in their Syria missions.
This week Israel reinstated its F-35 jets stealth fighters after a modified model used by the US had its first accidental crash last week.Israel found that whatever affected the model supplied to the US was different than the manufacture of its own planes.
Last month, Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) admitted it carried out more than 200 airstrikes in Syria over the last year, firing more than 800 missiles and mortar shells at targets.
Russia supplied the Syrian regime with the new S-300 system following the accidental Syrian downing of a Russian plane during an Israeli air strike in Syria, an incident that raised tensions between Israel and Russia.
While the two countries worked diplomatically to try to overcome the confrontation, but Russian reports blamed Israel for its brazen modus operandi that led to the accident.
Russia and Israel set up a hotline in 2015 to avoid accidental clashes in Syria.
Israel has stepped up its airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria after it became evident that the Islamic Republic is attempting to establish a permanent military presence in the country when the war is over.
Both Iran and Hezbollah -- enemies of Israel -- are supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in his country's civil war alongside Russia.
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