The recent arrival on Israel's border of the latest generation Russian air defence systems has "sharpened the mind" of Rafael as it looks to maintain the air force's freedom of operation in the region, Jane's was told on 20 June.
Speaking at the Paris Air Show, company representative Yuval M (his surname has been withheld for security reasons at Rafael's request) said that, while Israel has always had to contend with its neighbours fielding modern Soviet and Russian weaponary, the recent deployment to Syria of the latest Russian ground-based systems such as the S-400 Triumf (SA-21 'Growler') surface-to-air missile (SAM) launcher, as well as the latest Russian combat aircraft, is driving Rafael's efforts to maintain the Israeli Air Force's (IAF's) regional superiority.
"The guillotine sharpens the mind," said Yuval, adding, "Russia has sold air defence systems to Syria for the past 30 years, so it is something that Israel has always had to deal with. We are in the most dense air defence region in the world, and the IAF has always had to cope with this. What's different now is that we now have to deal directly with the Russians [who are based in Syria]. The IAF must keep its freedom to operate, and our challenge to give it its qualitative edge."
While the arrival in the region of the S-400 has focused the minds of the Israelis in general and Rafael in particular, Yuri noted that it has been expected for a long time and that the IAF is already equipped to deal with the threat. "The S-400 is not actually a shock - we perceived the threat a few years ago as it was clear that at some point it would be with our neighbours," Yuri said, noting, "We are always living on a sword and so we need to keep on improving, [and the S-400] is a driver for developing new technologies and capabilities."
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