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.”