Thursday, 6 June 2013

Air to Air Missiles Fired on Villages by Militants

Earlier today, Lebanese satellite television station Al-Manar broadcasted some exclusive footage from the freshly taken city of Al-Qusayr. Among the items left behind by the fleeing militants, Al-Manar also presented some missiles supposedly of Israeli or American production. As a military tech connoisseur I feel it is my duty to clarify some things.
These are not Israeli, but Soviet K-13 air-to-air missiles which are used on MiG-21, MiG-23 or on Sukhoi 17/20/22. The K-13, dubbed by NATO as “AA-2 Atoll”, is a short-range, infrared homing air-to-air missile reverse-engineered by the Soviet Union in 1960, from the American AIM-9 “Sidewinder”. The missile has an operational range of 8 km (5 miles) and can travel at speeds of up to Mach 2,5. Among the most important wars in which the K-13 saw action are the Yom Kippur War and Vietnam war (in limited numbers with the North Vietnamese Air Force).
The militants probably stole them from al-Daba’a air-base. Recent reports seemed to indicate that a part of the military airport  has fallen under militant’s control, and some videos emerged on pro-opposition channels showing equipment captured, including this type of missiles. It seems they decided to make use of these air-to-air missiles, by removing the seeker and guidance sections and firing them through an improvised launcher (as you can see in the pictures and in the video below).  We should probably wonder how the missiles detonate when they reach their target, because that job was done by the seeker which they removed. I believe the answer to this question lies in the pictures below, where we can see what appears to be an improvised, self-made impact fuse.
Although K-13’s warhead weighs just 11,3 kg (24,9 lb), it is composed out of trinitrotoluene (TNT), cyclotrimethylene-trinitramine (RDX, which was developed as an explosive more powerful than TNT and to be used mixed with other explosives) and shrapnel, which can cause serious wounds by embedding itself into a human body destroying organs, can enter the gut area and cause severe damage laying the person’s stomach wide open, or even cause paralysis to less fortunate victims. Shrapnel can enter the body at any angle and can be in extremely small pieces which is difficult for the surgeon to remove.
These are highly irresponsible actions, because due to the random fire of handmade mortars and rudimentary modified rockets, most of them end up in densely populated areas, killing innocent civilians. These missiles are almost certainly going to be inaccurate and pose a threat even to those who use them. But this is part of their tactics, as usual, they fire towards cities or villages, then rush to the place of impact to make video material for the mainstream media to show the world „more victims of the Assad regime”.
The following video shows militants from the Farouq Brigades firing the missiles:
This rocket is our ‘letter’ to Assadist & Hezbollah troops.
He then adds that the rocket is fired at “Alawite villages”.
Author: Philip George studies Foreign Policy at the University of Bucharest, Romania, and is a military technology expert. Philip is an author with and an activist with the European Solidarity Front for Syria.


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