Tuesday 13 November 2012

New Type Of Shoulder Mounted Surface To Air Missile Captured By The Opposition

Update November 16th Video footage has now been posted showing the SA-24 missiles described in this post, a detailed analysis of which can be found here.

During the conflict in Syria a great deal of attention has been paid to SA-7 shoulder mounted surface to air missiles, but these are not the only type of shoulder mounted surface to air missiles in the hands of the Syrian military.

Until now there's been no evidence of these systems being captured by the opposition, but this picture shows one system, an SA-16, that was reportedly captured by Ansar al-Islam from an air defence in East Ghouta, near Damascus

Currently there's very little other information about the equipment captured, with no indication of the number of systems captured, and while it appears the battery is present it's unclear if the grip stock is also present.

Update November 13th Another new type of surface to air missile has been spotted, apparently looted from Babla Base air defence base by Ansar al-Islam, and interestingly this appears to be an SA-24 system,  the latest generation of Russian surface to air missiles

It's also been pointed out to me it appears to be the same man holding both missile systems.

Update November 14th Thanks to @penym2 who has noted that the word on the gripstock of the SA-24 might be "MAKET", the Russian word for mock-up, although it's not possible to be 100% sure due to the quality of the photograph.

The Damascus Tribune blog has also been able to gather some more details on the base attacked 
AFter some research I found out that they were captured from Bala Air Defense Base near Mleiha town of Damascus Suburbs in Eastern Ghouta (Not Babla) by Ansar al-Islam as they said in a statement they issued on their Facebook page.
Update November 14th Thanks to Steve Zaloga, editor of Teal Group’s “World Missiles and UAV Briefing”, who emailed me some very interesting information on the SA-24 pictured

When a country buys a MANPADS system, they get a standard package which includes several different types of training missiles. One type is a simple, non-functional cut-away dummy which is used to train operators on the basic construction of the weapon. They also get some non-functional models which are used for very simple training (pointing, etc.) The most elaborate type is a functional trainer which operates like the real thing and has a functioning seeker (but not a warhead or rocket motor) so that the trainee can understand what happens when they operate the real thing. The most elaborate type is a trainer that hooks into a desk-top computer simulator where the computer can be used to generate targets that are viewed on a small video device attached to the gripstock.

I can’t tell from your photo, but it would seem to be one of the functional trainers, and not a simple dummy. On these MANPADS, the gripstock (the lower section with the trigger, thermal battery and electronic package) is reusable, while the missile in its launch tube/transport tube, and the thermal battery are replaced for each launch.

BTW, the Russian word Maket is borrowed from the French (maquette) and means “Model” rather than mock-up. Maket is painted on Russian training weapons  so that troops don’t confuse them with the real thing. Likewise, they are often painted in a different color (such as silver) for the same reason.

I have no specific details on what Syria has purchased in recent years. The Russians do not usually list their sales on the UN Arms Register, or if they do, it is limited to some very generic data (160 missiles, vs. 160 Igla-S, etc). The fact that the Syrians have the gripstock trainer strongly suggests that they got it  as part of a package with the functional weapons.
Update November 15th This photo has been posted showing the missile tubes for at least 12 MANPADS, possibly SA-24s.  Hugely significant if they have complete systems

This page claims that they were captured by the Jesus son of Mary Battalion at the above mentioned Bala Air Defense Base.  It should be noted without gripstocks and batteries these missiles are useless, and neither of them are pictured.

Update November 15th Another photograph has been posted online, which appears to again show the training model of the SA-24, as well as an unrelated anti-tank rocket.  It's rather interesting no pictures of batteries or grip-stocks have been posted, which may suggest the systems are incomplete

Update November 15th A number of videos have been posted on this channel filmed at the Bala air defence base featuring the previously mentioned "Jesus son of Mary Battalion".  The description for the videos claim that they fought alongside Ansar al-Islam and the Nasser Saladin Battalion, capturing 23mm weapons (likely ZU-23-2s), SA-16s, and "Malocka" anti-armour missiles, which I believe are AT-3 missiles

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmoses@gmail.com

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