Tangent Link in collaboration with Roger McDermott is proud to present a new series of defence reports, which aim to examine in detail the evolution and progress made by Russia’s conventional Armed Forces to pose a challenge to NATO and its partners, as well as its growing interests in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific Region, in the context of the ongoing strain in the international security system stemming from Russia’s actions in Ukraine. 


These reports are based upon close examination and analysis of specialist Russian language defence and security materials covering a broad range of issues to offer insight into the extent to which Russia’s military is progressing to develop its 21st century high-technology military capabilities. As such, they are tailored to suit defence companies and organisations with interests in Russia’s future role in the international security system and to keep track of its military modernisation programme. 



As a result of Russia’s recent military operations in Syria as well as its seizure of Crimea in February 2014, considerable international attention has focused upon Moscow’s use of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD). This range of capabilities has implications for Russia’s future military operations, and its force protection capacity in theatres of operations and in their proximity. Moscow has deployed assets in a number of locations since 2014 to create A2/AD or ‘air defence bubbles’ including Crimea and Kaliningrad.


A similar pattern emerged in late 2015 following Moscow’s decision to deploy military forces to Syria. An essential element of forming its air defence bubbles lies in the integrated use of air defence assets and specialists at operational and tactical levels. This report explores these structures, outlines some of the key systems and highlights the extent to which this fits a wider effort to develop existing electronic warfare (EW) capability as part of Russia’s military drive to adopt C4ISR approaches to warfare. This was strikingly illustrated in January 2018, in the air defence response to the attempted swarm drone attack on Russian military facilities at the Khmeimim airbase near Latakia and its naval logistical supply facility in Tartus; all 13 enemy UAVs were brought down before they could reach their targets.


Among these six were downed by the EW troops and seven were shot down by the Pantsir-S1 air defence system deployed at the Khmeimim airbase. This seamless interaction between air defence assets and EW capabilities provides insight into key trends in Moscow’s pursuit of enhanced force protection and offensive military capability rooted in C4ISR to function in a high technology operational environment.


Roger N McDermott is Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Department of War Studies, King’s College, London and Research Associate, the Institute of Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies (MECACS), University of St. Andrews, Scotland. 

He specialises in Russian and Central Asian defence and security issues. His interests in Russia’s defence and security developments are mainly in the areas of defence reform, force structure, training, strategic exercises, military theory, perspectives on future warfare, planning and combat capability and readiness, as well as operational analysis.