Thursday, 27 June 2013

Syrian MILANs (1)

In this video we see Liwa al-Haqq, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra capturing the munition depot of Khan Touman. The depot was captured on the 15th of March 2013

Apart from the capture of various tanks, self propelled artillery, vehicles and ammunition, Liwa al-Haqq, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra also captured a large quantity of MILAN missiles. A total of twenty-two boxes were stored in one of the warehouses. Every box contains four MILAN missiles, meaning they captured a total of eighty-eight MILAN missiles!

The fact that none of the MILANs were fired in more than three months likely means that no launchers were captured with the missiles or the missiles are unoperational. The Syrian MILANs runned out of shelf life in 2008. This doesn't mean the missiles are useless though, but it could affect their performance.

Without a launcher these missiles cannot be used. Of course Liwa al-Haqq, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra will do everything in their power to acquire launching systems. These can either be acquired via the black market, given as aid by friendly states like Libya and Qatar or captured from the Syrian Arab Army. Although the latter sounds unlikely. The whereabouts of the 200 launchers are unknown and the Syrian Arab Army will likely make sure that the launchers will not fall in other hands. Trading or selling the MILAN missiles to the Free Syrian Army could solve the problem, meaning the missiles could be put into action if they are still operational. France or Germany could be willing to 'aid' the Free Syrian Army by sending Milan launchers to Syria.

The MILAN missiles were seen once on the Syrian State TV, in a reportage showing weapons captured from opposition fighters in the Hama region (1). A launching system was not shown, if there was such a launching system for the MILAN missiles in the Hama region remains unknown.

Khan Touman munition depot

Syria ordered 4400 MILAN missiles in 1977 and received the missiles in 1978-1979. The deal also included 200 launchers (2). The missiles were actively used by the Syrian Arab Army in the 1982 Lebanon war. Mainly in the areas south and west of Beirut, but also in the eastern and southern suburbs of the city where the narrow streets were a big advantage for the Syrian Anti-tank teams (3).

Syrian MILAN team during the war in Lebanon in 1982

There are some interesting details on the missile containers, confirming the missiles are from the original batch in 1977. Also shown are the serial numbers of the missiles.

The number ending with '77' stands for production year 1977
The four consecutive five-digit numbers are the serials of the four individual missiles in the crate.

NOTE: These are German MILANs photographed in Germany, they are being used as an example here. Clearly showing how the four missiles are stored within the container:
The text on the box differs from the French version used in Syria.
The text on the box differs from the French version used in Syria.

The MILAN in French service. Clearly showing the launcher and the missile.

The launcher itself.

(This article was written in collaboration with PFC_Joker)

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Friday, 21 June 2013

The HJ-8, a new weapon on the Syrian battlefield

This video shows a guided anti-tank missile being fired at a target inside Mennegh airbase.

The missile seen in the video is the Chinese designed HJ-8. The HJ-8 is a second generation tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided anti-tank missile system armed with a HEAT anti-tank warhead. It was originally developed by NORINCO and is in service with the People's Liberation Army since the late 80's. Pakistan produces this missile system under licence as the Baktar-Shikan. The HJ-8 is able to defeat explosive reactive armour (ERA). The HJ-8 is the Chinese equivalent of the American BGM-71 TOW, and of the Franco-German MILAN and HOT anti-tank missiles.

The HJ-8 is also in service with the Sudanese Armed Forces. Sudan was previously linked with supplying the FN-6 MANPADS and the M99s also seen in service with the Free Syrian Army. We can safely assume these HJ-8s are also delivered from Sudan, paid for by gulf states, thus confirming that the missiles in Syria are from the Chinese production line.

The weapons were indeed supplied by Qatar according to the New York Times. Click here for the article. A HJ-8 operated by Sudan can be seen below.

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