Israeli Air Force Chief: Syria Air Threat 'Small'

Published June 28th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Israeli Air force chief, Dan Halutz, said Tuesday that the Syrian air force has avoided changing the status quo over Lebanon's skies since Israel's recent withdrawal from southern Lebanon. 

Speaking in an interview to the Air force Journal, quoted by Haaretz, Halutz said that Syrian aircraft have not overflown Lebanon. He added that "if the status quo is violated, we will weigh our response."  

The senior officer added that the transition period as Syria inaugurates its new president will play a pacifying role in the situation in Lebanon. 

The journal reported on the state of the Syrian air force in its most recent issue, suggesting that it is suffering from an aging, barely functioning fleet. 

According to this assessment, in the event of a clash with Israel, the Syrian airforce would be able to carry out only very limited operations against Israeli targets, as only a small number of aircaft are deemed capable of penetrating Israeli defenses and launching precision weapons, said the report. 

The journal reported that without budgetary support, the Syrian airforce could deteriorate to the point that entire systems could become inoperable. 

The Syrians have several dozen advanced Russian-made aircraft, such as the MiG-29, but most of their fleet comprises old aircraft with limited capabilities. Haaretz quoted the report as describing these aircraft as "having reached the end of their operational life and without a broad upgrading plan, they will be reduced to junk – Albawaba.com 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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