Some of these missiles were probably flying low enough not to be seen by Russian radars, unless the Russians had an AWACS in the air (I don’t know if they did).However, since the Russians were warned about the attack they had plenty of time to prepare their electronic warfare stations to “fry” and otherwise disable at least part of the cruise missiles. I do not know whether the Russian were technically unable to destroy and confuse the 23 missiles which reached the base or whether a political decision was taken to let less than half of the cruise missiles through in order to disguise the Russian role in the destruction of 36 missiles.The latest US cruise missile attack on the Syrian airbase is an extremely important event in so many ways that it is important to examine it in some detail.
Then, when the Russians demand a full investigation, the Americans strike as fast as they can before this idea gets any support.
And now the Americans are probing a possible Russian role in this so-called attack.
What I am sure of is that 36 advanced cruise missile do not “just disappear”.
There are two reasons why the Russians would have decided to use their EW systems and not their missiles: first, it provides them “plausible deninability” (at least for the general public, there is no doubt that US signal intelligence units did detect the Russian electronic interference (unless it happened at very low power and very high frequency and far away inland), and because by using EW systems it allowed them to keep their air defense missiles for the protection of their own forces. Take a look at this image, taken from a Russian website, which appears to have been made by the company Kret which produces some of the key Russian electronic warfare systems.
The missiles used in the attack, the Tomahawk, can use any combination of three guidance systems: GPS, inertial navigation and terrain mapping.