Monday, 27 April 2015

Libya Dawn going DIY: 2K12 SAMs installed on an Italian Puma 6x6 APC









The surprising move by Libya Dawn that resulted in the conversion of several S-125 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) into surface-to-surface missiles is not the only of its kind in Libya. Indeed, initiated at roughly the same time, Libya Dawn also worked on the conversion of 2K12 SAMs for installment on a more mobile launcher. The first contraption, seen above, combines an Italian produced Puma 6x6 APC with the launch section of a Soviet designed 2K12 SAM system.

The Puma had been part of a batch of at least twenty vehicles donated by Italy to the fledgling Libyan National Army back in 2013, but has now been modified for a wholely different role by its new owners. Replacing the original tracked 2P25 launch vehicle, plenty of modifications are necessary to adapt the Puma 6x6 for its new role.








Although it remains unknown if the 9M39 missiles remain in use in their original role as surface-to-air missiles or if these missiles have been converted to surface-to-surface missiles, it is unlikely that this system will have any impact on the Libyan battlefield in either case.

When aimed at protecting Misrata airbase, the main hub of Libya Dawn's Air Force, this 2K12 SAM conversion will undoubtedly scare away any possible aerial intruders. When faced with a real opponent however, it is unlikely that any intruder will be shot down. They do however represent the increasing number of DIY projects in Libya, and are certain not to be the last.

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Libya Dawn going DIY: 2K12 SAMs installed on an Italian Puma 6x6 APC









The surprising move by Libya Dawn that resulted in the conversion of several S-125 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) into surface-to-surface missiles is not the only of its kind in Libya. Indeed, initiated at roughly the same time, Libya Dawn also worked on the conversion of 2K12 SAMs for installment on a more mobile launcher. The first contraption, seen above, combines an Italian produced Puma 6x6 APC with the launch section of a Soviet designed 2K12 SAM system.

The Puma had been part of a batch of at least twenty vehicles donated by Italy to the fledgling Libyan National Army back in 2013, but has now been modified for a wholely different role by its new owners. Replacing the original tracked 2P25 launch vehicle, plenty of modifications are necessary to adapt the Puma 6x6 for its new role.








Although it remains unknown if the 9M39 missiles remain in use in their original role as urface-to-air missiles, or if these missiles have been converted for the surface-to-surface missiles, it is unlikely that this system will have any impact on the Libyan battlefield in either case.

When aimed at protecting Misrata airbase, the main hub of Libya Dawn's Air Force, this 2K12 SAM conversion will undoubtedly scare away any possible aerial intruders. When faced with a real opponent however, it is unlikely that any intruder will be shot down. They do however represent the increasing number of DIY projects in Libya, and are certain not to be the last.

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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Libya Dawn going DIY: S-125 SAMs used as surface-to-surface missiles




A lack of spare parts for Libya's sophisticated weaponry has resulted in a number of interesting conversions by the Libyan National Army and Libya Dawn, both poised to get the edge over the other party. Recent examples of such conversions have included the installment of Oerlikon GDF naval guns on trucks by Libya Dawn and the installment of AK-230 naval guns on trucks by the Libyan National Army.

Libya Dawn, currently in control of Libya's captital Tripoli and other large cities like Misrata , inherited a large number of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) found in the vast swats of land it controls in the west of Libya. As there is little to no need to use the SAMs in their originally envisioned role, Libya Dawn began investigating the feasibility of turning some of the SAMs into surface-to-surface missiles. The militant group already gained experience with such conversions when they used several Kh-29 air-to-surface missiles, once equipping Libya's Su-24s, as unguided rockets near Tripoli.

In a quite surprising move, Libya Dawn transferred at least two complete S-125 SAM brigades along with associated misssiles and equipment to Tripoli in early December 2014 and in early March 2015.[1] [2] While the initial move behind these transfers remained unknown, images now reveal Libya Dawn has begun using the S-125s as surface-to-surface missiles.

The missiles, still installed on their (now mobile) original launcher, had their fins at the front removed for a more stable flight path in the unguided surface-to-surface role. More interestingly, the nose was lengthened, possibly to increase the size of the warhead. The original missile only packs a 60 kilograms heavy warhead, which is enough to heavily damage or destroy a potential aerial target but far too light for doing any substantial damage when used in the surface-to-surface role. The warhead might also have been replaced by a regular high explosive one, which is more effective than the original high explosive fragmentational warhead designed to wreck aircraft. Finally, it seems the proximity fuse usually associated with the system has been replaced by more appropriate ones for use against ground targets.


The conversion of SAMs to function in the surface-to-surface role by Libya Dawn is actually not a first in the world. Back in 1988, Iraq converted several S-125s to ballistic missiles with an intended range of 200 kilometers. The missile, called al-Barq, was modified to suit the surface-to-surface role by removing the features which enable the S-125 to be such a manoeuvrable missile: the missile's canards and the radio fuse in the warhead were removed, and the missile's self-destruct mechanism was disabled.

This conversion proved to be everything but easy as the S-125's warhead is part of the airframe, and was difficult to modify. Work on the missiles progressed slowly, and although several flight tests were indeed carried out, the achieved range totalled only 117 kilometres with a circular error probable (CEP) of several kilometres. Because of the unsatisfactory results, the project was subsequently terminated in 1990.


Obviously, it is highly implausible Libya Dawn could cobble something together from dusty leftover missiles that would manage to achieve the range or accuracy of even the failed al-Barq, meaning the field conversions likely suffer from both abysmally short range and crippling inaccuracy. However, with more than enough S-125s to scavenge and a civil war that does not appear to be going anywhere, conversions like these will undoubtedly continue.







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Monday, 20 April 2015

Libya Dawn going DIY: Oerlikon GDF naval guns mounted on trucks


The Libyan National Army and Libya Dawn, entangled in a seemingly unending conflict, are both forced to look for creative solutions to provide their troops with the maximum amount of firepower required to gain the edge over each other. While the many arms depots present in Libya provided an impressive amount of sophisticated weaponry to the many forces now fighting for control over Libya, a lack of spare parts has meant that only a part of this equipment could enter service, with the majority cannibalised in order to keep a part of the fleet running.

The situation is only worsened by the arms embargo imposed on Libya, which officially prevents the acquisition of military equipment by the forces fighting in Libya. As arms embargoes are often little more than a few noneffectual words on a piece of paper, both Libya's Armed Forces and Libya Dawn do still receive some military equipment from their supporters abroad, but this flow of arms remains too small to give one or the other a decisive advantage on the ground.

This led to parties scrounging for whatever advanced weaponry could be found in Libya's arms depots and airbases. The most remarkable results of this were the use of Kh-29 air-to-surface missiles, originally destined for use by Libya's Su-24s, as unguided rockets by Libya Dawn and the installment of AK-230 naval guns on trucks by the Libyan National Army.

A similar project was initated by Libya Dawn around the same time the Libyan National Army completed its first truck armed with a naval gun. Libya Dawn managed to get its hands on numerous of such guns once equipping Libyan Navy frigates, corvettes and fast attack craft after capturing the depot the weaponry was stored in. Libya was unable to service all these vessels in the nineties because of the arms embargo, and eventually scrapped them all. The weaponry formerly equipping these ships was subsequently stored.

The 412 Wadi Mirah and her three sister ships were among the ships scrapped in the 90s, all having served just over ten years. Their 76mm OTO Melaras, 35mm Oerlikon GDFs, torpedo tubes, Otomat anti-ship missiles and associated fire-control systems were all stored.


This huge arsenal of stored naval weaponry not only included anti-ship missiles such as the Otomat Mk.1, Mk.2 and the Exocet, but also various types of naval guns such as the 76mm OTO Melara and 35mm and 40mm anti-aircraft guns, in addition to a large array of Soviet-designed weaponry.

Much of this already obsolete Soviet-designed weaponry was stripped for spare parts to allow guns that were still installed on ships to continue service. The Western-designed naval guns, barely used in their short career, were still in prime condition however, yet were now rotting away with no apparant future use. The procurement plans of the Libyan Navy under Gaddafi mainly included Russian-designed ships which had no possibility to mount the stored Western weaponry, which effectively sealed their fate.

However, a part of the weaponry was brought out of storage by Libya Dawn in late 2014 for installment on trucks. These early conversions proved a success and work was initiated to convert more naval guns for land use.


The system under construction (seen in the header) donned a double-barreled 35mm Oerlikon GDF naval gun taken from the British-built frigate Dat Assawari, a ship that was also scrapped in the 90s. Half of the turret was cut away to allow for easier aiming and access to the guns and their munitions. Due to the relatively high calibre of the naval gun and the fact that the truck was not designed to be used in such a way, prolonged fire is likely not possible and stability would be best achieved if the gun were firing backwards as opposed to towards the sides.

The finished product included the muzzle brakes on the 35mm guns, but saw the entire turret removed. The minimal protection it provided apparantly did not weigh up against the increase  in stealth and situational awareness acquired when equipped with a (partial) turret.

Surprisingly, a truck belonging to Libya Dawn driving through Libya in early April carried one complete 76mm Oto Melara gun system, an empty 76mm Oto Melara turret and an empty 40mm DARDO close-in weapon system (CIWS) turret. Although one can only guess at the way these particular weapons systems will be converted for land-use, it clearly shows the parties in the conflict are gearing up for the long haul, and will go to great lengths to boost their weapon inventory.





Special thanks to Joseph Dempsey

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