There’s a great deal of speculation about an incident Thursday, in which Israeli warplanes overflew Syria, at some point flying supersonically, and may have been fired on by Syrian antiaircraft batteries. They apparently jettisoned fuel tanks which landed near the Syrian border with Turkey.
In an interview with the Dubai-based satellite TV channel Al Arabiya, Syrian parliament member Muhammad Habash claimed that Israel launched an attack mission – which failed.
Habash cited the Israeli Air Force’s attack on the Iraqi nuclear plant 26 years ago – which had immediate impact in the Israeli media as soon as the planes landed. If Israel had succeeded in attaining its aims this time too, Habash says, the world would certainly know. — YNet
The truth is probably much simpler.
Syria has recently obtained new antiaircraft systems from Russia. My guess is that the overflight was intended to provoke the Syrians into “lighting up” the radar equipment on these units, at which point the aircraft could collect data on frequencies and other key characteristics, making effective countermeasures possible.
One of the problems that surfaced in the 2006 war was a lack of preparation and intelligence, particularly in the ground forces, which were surprised by the weapons, fortifications, and command and control capabilities of Hezbollah. The IDF is under ‘new management’ now, with a new Chief of Staff, and there is good reason to believe that — like the air force — the ground forces will be well prepared for what they will encounter next time.