The Israeli Air Force has an impressive reputation. As a son of an IAF veteran, I grew up hearing their stories and watching runways. I was told tales of daring dogfights against the Egyptian Spitfires in the early days, or the overwhelming casualties the IAF caused to the Egyptian Air Force during the Six-Day War (’67)—a total of 452 Arab aircraft were destroyed, 49 of which were aerial victories.

Over the years, the IAF has become more technologically advanced and is now an important part of our national security. But above all, it has become an important element of our special operations, providing our forces with the ability to reach far, silently and in deadly fashion. Operations such as OP Babylon (bombing an Iraqi nuclear plant) or Operation Orchard were important milestones in the IAF progression and development; their reputation has since helped the Jewish country to rule the sky in a manner that offers us freedom of action, even in such a complex conflict as the Syrian Civil War.

But with the recent developments in Syria, the Russians working to establish a stronger presence in the region, it is likely that the era of the IAF crossing borders as if merely walking over a sidewalk is nearly over. The Russian Navy’s Black Sea flagship, the guided missile cruiser Moscow (or Moskva ‘glory’), left from Sevastopol in Crimea on Thursday, 24 September, 2015, according to Russian state-controlled media. It is currently located to the west of Latakia, in western Syria.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), “In the course of the training activity, the Russian ships will practice organization of anti-submarine, anti-ship, and air defense, as well as search-and-rescue activities and rendering assistance to distressed vessels. During the exercise, the military seamen are to perform over 40 different combat tasks including missile and artillery firings at surface and aerial targets.”

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By positioning the Moskva, a cruiser armed with S300 missiles, west of Latakia, the Russians have endangered the IAF’s favorite corridor of flight into Syria. The IAF has no stealth capabilities to circumvent this anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) bubble, nor any other Air Force in the area. Putin managed to do in several days what Obama failed to do in the last three years: He’s created a true no-fly zone. In fact, Putin’s actions suggest (my opinion) that he’s willing to force the coalition and the Israel Air Force, specifically, into reporting and coordinating their flights in the region—an act that I’m sure no one is really in favor of or willing to comply with.

The Moskva carries an estimated 64 S-300 missiles (according to foreign sources) and could intercept multiple targets up to 150 miles away, making it a serious threat in addition to other Russian assets in the region. The presence of the Moskva essentially locks down British air assets in Cyprus, American F-16s in the southern part of Turkey, and the Israeli Air Force, which likes to use that particular flight corridor for penetration into Syria, or alternatively when flying over the western part of Lebanon. Any flights in or around the country will now be quite tricky for the IAF to accomplish.

Russian Air defense in Syria