TEL AVIV (Jul. 26)
Senior Israeli military sources stated Sunday that the MIG-29s Syria received last week from the Soviet Union would not constitute a qualitative change in the military balance of forces between the Israel Defense Force and the Syrian army. But Syria’s possession of the sophisticated aircraft would make it necessary for the IDF to find “operational solutions” to much more difficult and complicated challenges than in the past, the military sources noted. They pointed out that it will be a number of months before the MIGs are operational.
It is still not clear how many of the planes will be provided by the Soviets to Syria. Only a relatively large number of planes would constitute a significant change in the strength of the Syrian air force. Meanwhile, Soviet technicians have arrived in Syria to assist the air force personnel in learning to use the planes. The Syrian pilots who will fly the MIGs are to undergo training in the USSR.
In a related development, Moscow announced that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has decided not to supply Syria with ground-to-ground missiles. No reason was given for halting the scheduled shipment.