Thursday, 17 October 2013

Buks stationed at Mezze (2)

New photos taken on the 8th and the 14th of October confirm that the deployment of the Buk battalion is not temporarily, but permanent. The battalion is guarding three of Assad's most important objects. With Mezze probably being Syria's most important (air)base, with the Republican Guard base being home to Assad's most trusted and elite fighting unit and the the Presidential Palace - perhaps the single most important object in Syria from the regime's point of view - is just about 3 kilometers away from Mezze.

Mezze is home to 909 squadron operating Mi-8 Hip Bs, 976 and 977 squadron operating SA-342L Gazelles and an unknown squadron operating Mi-8 Hip Bs and Mi-17 Hip H'. The base also sees regularly deployments of Mi-25 attack helicopters and VIP planes like the Falcon 20. The base is also home to the Tu-143 UAVs and various missile launchers, the latter being used to shell various parts of Damascus.

We can see one Transporter Erector Launcher and Radar (TELAR) 9A317 and one Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) 9A316. Both carrying four missiles in launching position, the latter having four additional missiles stored instead of the 9S36 radar equipped on the 9A317.

One of the 9A317 Buks based at Mezze showing her 9S36 radar and the deadly armament of four 9M317E missiles. Photo taken on the 14th of October by Darayya Media Center.

Mezze has three open-ending shelters like the one seen below. These shelters, along with the various Hardened Aircraft Shelters (HAS) on the base, likely house the other battalion's vehicles.

A 9A316 Buk in one of three open-ending shelters. Note that the Buk is sharing the shelter with one SA-342 helicopter. Photo taken on 8th October by Darayya Media Center.

Mezze AFB, the red arrow showing the location of the open-ending shelter housing the 9A316 Buk. The rectangle showing the location of the Buk battalion.

Recommended Articles

Mezze and her Buks (1) 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Syria's Tu-143s

In this video uploaded on the 13th of October we see a SPU-143 driving on the runway of Mezze Airbase.

This truck was reported to be a fuel tanker, the 'tank' does not hold fuel though. It holds a Tu-143 reconnaissance drone. This type of drone, along with its SPU-143 launcher, has been based at Mezze since the introduction of the system in 1981. The launchers are visible on the earliest Google Earth images of Mezze taken in 2000.

Five Tu-143 systems were bought in 1980, with deliveries being completed in 1983.(1) A single system normally contains four SPU-143 vehicles. We can see twelve SPU-143 launchers at Mezze in 2007, meaning at least three of those five systems are based there. The remaining vehicles might also be based at Mezze, being hidden inside Hardened Aircraft Shelters.

The initial Tu-143 carried a film camera in a pod, this pod was retrieved after flight for retrieval of the images. A later version could relay her images direcly to the ground station via a datalink.

The Tu-143 was reportedly also used in the 1982 Lebanon War, if such usage really took place is unknown. If it was used, it would have been under Soviet supervision and would probably have marked the first usage of the Tu-143 in combat.

The photo above shows the unit's base. The leftmost Hardened Aircraft Shelter (HAS) holds supporting units, while the two double Hardened Aircraft Shelter's are home to the SPU-143s launchers. Twelve SPU-143 launchers are visible on this image taken in 2007.

Mezze AFB. The two arrows are pointing to the unit's base, with the runway acting as a bridge between the two HAS's

One of the unit's double HAS's. Clearly showing five drone container equipped SPU-143s. Image taken in 2009.

An ex-Ukrainian SPU-143 in launching position. Also note the Tu-143 laying next to the SPU-143.

An ex-Czech Tu-143 in a museum. For more Tu-143 images: