Sunday 16 December 2012

Mystery Solved! - Remains Of A Large Unidentified Missile/Rocket Film In Syria

Update December 17th Thanks to the many people who made a variety of suggestions for the identity of the missile, and I believe we now know what this is.  It appears to be part of a S-200 surface to air missile, specifically the "PRD-81/5S25/5S28 solid propellant booster using RAM-10K filler with 3-5 sec burn duration".  How it got into that field is still a mystery, but it seems we can exclude this video from examples of surface to surface missile in Syria. 

Update December 19th Thanks to @massdall for this video which gives a clear view of the booster described above.

In the past week there's been numerous reports in the press of claims by US and NATO officials of Scud missiles being fired at opposition forces in Syria.  Since then a number of videos have been posted online claiming to show Scud missile launches, but none have been clear enough to make a positive ID, for example

The Syrian military has a variety of tactical ballistic missiles including Soviet, North Korean, and Iranian missiles, so it cannot be assumed these launches are Scud missiles.

Today two videos were posted online showing the remains of a large missile, possibly the first example of tactical ballistic missile remains being filmed in Syria

The missile is covered with Russian text, but the markings don't give much useful information, with most of it appearing to be basic technical information and information about the correct method of transport, none of which provides enough detail to make a positive ID.  As the text is in Russian it means the following missiles used by the Syrian military are the most likely suspects
From what I can tell the missile in the video is too thin to be a Scud, and the OTR-21/KN-02 doesn't appear to have tail fins in the same position, so that would leave the FROG-7.  However, due to the damage on the missile it's difficult to find matching features, so for now I'll have to leave this one as an unidentified missile. 

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  1. 5С25 part of S-200

  2. Would it be possible that this was fired as a crude ballistic missile?? I've head SA-2 guidlines were fired at surface targets by the Egyptians during the Yom Kippur war, maybe the Syrians are doing the same with their SA-5's? I mean, I doubt that all of the SA-5's the Syrians posses are fully operational, but I guess it would be easy to rig the warhead to only explode on impact...or even fit a completely different, heavier warhead onto it to basically turn a useless SAM into a cheap ballistic missile.

    1. Might be: County Class destroyers used to be able to fire Sea Slug missiles at surface targets; this capability was used to give fire support to a raiding party on Pebble Island during the Falklands War. This was done by controlling the missile's trajectory from the launch ship: the anti-ship capability of the later Sea Dart missile relies on it homing on reflections from the target when illuminated by the ship's tracking radar, so can't be fired at over-the-horizon ground coordinates in the same way as Sea Slug. So, it's possible if the S200 has a controlled trajectory mode like Sea Slug did.

      However, the other possibility is that the Syrian forces have been shooting at stealthy western reconnaissance aircraft or drones, and presumably failing to hit them.

      It wouldn't be the sort of "Reaper" drone used in Afghanistan; something flying much higher and using a synthetic aperture radar to locate and track tanks and other ground forces. You only send such a drone to tell you something a satellite can't.