9K338 Igla-S (SA-24) and other MANPADS in Syria

By N.R. Jenzen-Jones

9K338 Igla-S in Syria

The image above, a screenshot from a recently uploaded video, appears to show a fully assembled 9K338 Igla-S (NATO reporting name: SA-24 Grinch) in the hands of rebel forces in Syria. The fighters, from the Alasala Watanmia Front, exhibit four different man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) in the video uploaded on May 30, 2013. From left to right in the video, as seen below, we see a 9K32M Strela-2M (SA-7b Grail), Chinese FN-6, 9K338 Igla-S, and 9K310 Igla-1 (SA-16 Gimlet). The three Soviet/Russian systems appear to be complete, featuring missile launch tube, gripstock, and BCU (battery coolant unit). The Chinese FN-6 appears to be lacking its BCU in the video. It is unknown, of course, whether any of the weapons shown are in functioning condition. The video was apparently shot in the Aleppo region.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IiQs-_SDjjA

An earlier video, posted in February by the ‘Armoured Brigade Aleppo’ also appears to show a handful of 9K338 systems, including BCUs and gripstocks. These two videos are the only examples I have seen of complete 9K338 systems in Syria, although some previous reporting and blogging has shown incomplete systems. Western governments and reporters have expressed concern over the 9K338 system in the past, with some confusion around the presence of the missile in Libya. The 9K338 is substantially more capable than the far more common 9K32 (SA-7a) and 9K32M (SA-7b) MANPADS which are found in conflict zones throughout the world, and have been used in attacks against civilian airliners. Older systems are easily defeated by the electronic countermeasures of modern fighter aircraft, however the 9K338 poses a more significant threat to some of the slightly older combat aircraft still in use with many forces in the region.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8aR_EmA8SO0

My thanks to Yuri Lyamin for the heads-up on these. 

This post originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer.

Identification and analysis of small arms ammunition in Libya

By N.R. Jenzen-Jones

CP01-05

The Small Arms Survey has recently released my latest long form report, examining the variety of Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) observed in Libya during and immediately after the recent conflict. This is the first in a series of baseline assessments of arms and ammunition holdings in Africa and the Middle East that I intend to author. The next report in the series will focus on SAA identified in Syria.

An extract from the press release:

The assessment is based on photos of cartridge headstamps, cartridges, and ammunition packaging, as well as shipping documents pertaining to small arms ammunition transfers. Most of these records are from Tripoli and were gathered during the first five months of 2012, with additional photos from Ajdabiya, Benghazi, and Misrata. This baseline will serve as a valuable tool for governments, NGOs, and other actors involved in understanding and stemming the illicit flow of small arms ammunition in the region … The Headstamp Trail forms part of the Small Arms Survey’s Security Assessment in North Africa, a multi-year project to support those engaged in building a more secure environment in North Africa and the Sahel-Sahara region.

The report can be downloaded and viewed here.

Image copyright: Damien Spleeters. 

This post originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer.

the-trigger:

Three weapons, three serial numbers.

These three rifles are Belgian. What’s so important about them? Well, the United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya mentioned them in its latest report, released this month:

73. The Panel requested the Belgian authorities to assist in tracing an FNC assault rifle that was photographed in Libya in 2012.2 The Belgian authorities responded that the rifle (serial No. 025992) bore markings that resembled a rifle that was part of an order exported to the Qatari armed forces in Doha around 1980.

99. In the first tracing request, an FN FAL assault rifle photographed in Libya in 2012 (serial No. 1514944) was identified by the Belgian manufacturer as being part of an order that was delivered to the Emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 1979.

100. In the second tracing request, another FN FAL assault rifle photographed in Libya in 2012 (serial No. 1731984) was identified as resembling a weapon delivered to the Emirate of Dubai in an order dated 19 April 1991.

The problem? Those rifles were not found in Qatar nor in the UAE. They were found in Libya, in the hands of the men who fought Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

What does it mean? First, that Qatar and the UAE illegally diverted Belgian weapons. Second, that by doing so they breached an UN arms embargo.

Will Belgium change its arms export policy towards those two countries? With the elements of information available today, this question remains open.*

What it shows, though, is the importance of thoroughly documenting the tools of war.

Those rifles were not documented by the UN Panel of Experts, but by journalists on the ground. Those journalists then published their photographs and their stories. The Belgian authorities refused to trace those weapons until it was asked from them by the UN.

If you’re in Belgium and can read French, make sure to get a copy of Le Vif/L’Express today (or before next Thursday) for more details. (For those of you who will read the article, forgive the mistakes the photo editor made: the 1st picture is obviously an FNC, and the serial number on the 3rd page belongs to an FN FAL, not to an FNC.)

Photos 1 and 2: an FN FAL rifle, with right-hand side serial number. Benghazi, Libya, February 2012, Damien Spleeters.

Photos 3 and 4: an FN FAL rifle, with right-hand side serial number. Benghazi, Libya, June 2012, Jef Linssen.

Photo 5 and 6: an FNC assault rifle, with serial number. Libya, June 2012, Jef Linssen.

*This paragraph was edited on April 19, 14:10 following a discussion held in the comment section.

(Source: the-trigger)

Over at The Firearm Blog, there are some new photos of what appears to be a modified Chinese Type 81 assault rifle designed to fire rifle grenades, sighted in the hands of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Burma. It seems likely that this is a craft-produced weapon, modified locally. The grenades themselves, seen in this image, appear similar to Norinco DQD 1 rifle grenades. 
As they note over at TFB, China is a well-known supplier of the Kachin Independence Army.
Should you have any information on this rifle configuration or the rifle grenades, please contact us. 

Over at The Firearm Blog, there are some new photos of what appears to be a modified Chinese Type 81 assault rifle designed to fire rifle grenades, sighted in the hands of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Burma. It seems likely that this is a craft-produced weapon, modified locally. The grenades themselves, seen in this image, appear similar to Norinco DQD 1 rifle grenades

As they note over at TFB, China is a well-known supplier of the Kachin Independence Army.

Should you have any information on this rifle configuration or the rifle grenades, please contact us

Sakr 122mm Cargo Rockets & Submunitions in Syria
By N.R. Jenzen-Jones. This piece originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer,
Recently, Sakr 122mm cargo rockets and their submunitions have been observed within Syria. This family of 122mm rockets is designed for use with the Russian BM-21 multiple rocket launcher (the so-called ‘Grad’, or ‘hail’) and other 122mm systems such as the Chinese Type 81 SPRL and Egyptian RL-21 and RC-21 launch vehicles. These surface-to-surface multiple rocket launcher systems are not designed for precise fires, but instead target wide areas; this effect is, of course, even more pronounced when firing submunition-dispensing rockets from these systems. Despite multiple reports to the contrary, these munitions are not Iranian, but were produced in Egypt at the Sakr Factory for Development Industries, a subsidiary of the Egyptian Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI). The AOI logo can be seen very clearly on the rocket in the video below, and the full name along with ‘Sakr Factory’ can be seen printed on the rockets in Arabic in the images at the bottom of this article.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPJs5ewh1CY
Sakr 122mm rockets are produced with high explosive (HE), leaflet, or submunition payloads. It is also believed that mine-dispensing and illumination varieties have been manufactured. Sakr 122mm rockets have been produced in four lengths, with designations of Sakr-10, Sakr-18, Sakr-36, and Sakr-45, for their approximate ranges. In reality, the maximum range varies depending on the payload of the rocket. Cargo rockets are produced in the -18, -36, and -45 varieties, with effective ranges of 17, 31, and 42 kilometres, respectively. The Sakr-10 and Sakr-18 models feature ‘S-form’ folding fins (as seen on the Soviet/Russian 9M22U and other 122mm rockets), whilst the Sakr-36 and Sakr-45 feature straight fins, as seen in the video above. Whilst the video description claims there were ‘over 100 bomb[lets]’, this is unlikely. Sakr-18 and Sakr-45 rockets contain 72 submunitions each, whilst Sakr-36 rockets contain 98. A mechanical time fuze causes the submunitions to eject from the carrier rocket (believed to occur at approximately 700m above ground, in the case of the Sakr series rockets). The fuze and rocket nose cone can be seen in the image below (credit).  
Whilst information on the submunitions themselves is scarce, it appears that early rockets were loaded with Soviet and Chinese submunitions, including Chinese Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM) derived from US designs. Later rockets, including those in current production, are loaded with copies of the US M77 submunition; these are probably Egyptian-produced copies, although some may have been manufactured in China. Some western sources refer to this later submunition as an ‘M42D’, though it is unclear where this designation originates (other than the obvious allusion to the US M42 submunition). It is not clear whether this is an internal designation, or a term applied by an observer at a later date. The submunitions observed appear to be copies of the US M77 submunition, rather than the M42, and feature the wider ribbon necessary to arm the munition when released from a cargo rocket. The bomblets pictures are one of two confirmed submunitions known to be used with Sakr 122mm rockets, and are sometimes referred to simply as the ‘Sakr Type B’ submunition. Both the ‘Type A’ and ‘Type B’ appear to be copies of the US M77.

M77 submunitions, and the related M42 and M46, have been widely copied throughout the globe. Nonetheless, they all operate in a similar basic fashion, as follows: Once the submunitions are ejected from the carrier the ribbon unfurls in the airstream. This ribbon flutters as it falls, causing motion that unscrews a screw it is attached to. Once unscrewed, a spring-loaded detonator slide safety is released to the side of the munition, leaving the screw directly above the detonator. Impact inertia drives the screw into the detonator upon impact. If the submunition impacts on an angle, or has its fall broken by foliage or similar, it may fail to detonate. This leaves the screw perilously close to the detonator, and any wind can cause the ribbon to move the screw back and forth across the face of the detonator. Submunitions found in such a state are extremely dangerous. One EOD specialist who I spoke with had the following to say:


I worked for several years cleaning up after firings of the US MLRS with the M77; we had the utmost respect for the sensitivity of the detonator. If the wind reached 6 knots at ground level we would depart the range area, any movement of the ribbon on dud munitions could potentially cause detonation. Normally we could not just quit for the day, so we would retreat to our safe zone to play cards and wait to see if the wind died down. On numerous occasions while waiting we would have detonations within the area from wind disturbance.


The submunitions seen in the video above appear, in most cases, to have failed to arm. However, towards the end of the video a submunition with an armed fuze can be seen (circled in image below). This is extremely dangerous to move, handle, or approach.

Remember, all unexploded munitions – especially submunitions such as these – are dangerous. You can visit RRMA for more information. As always, if you see any UXO, remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:
•AVOID the area•RECORD all relevant information from a safe distance•MARK the area to warn others•SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities 
Should any readers have further information on the submunitions used with Sakr 122mm rockets, or new photos or footage of such rockets or submunitions, please get in touch. My thanks to Jeff Osborne, Michael Weber, Peter White, Neil Marshall, and Travis Owen for their assistance with this piece. 
Additional Material
This promotional video from AOI/Sakr FDI is available on my YouTube Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mcEhRDfFSY
Top image courtesy of Nicole Tung. You can see more images at The Rogue Adventurer. 

Sakr 122mm Cargo Rockets & Submunitions in Syria

By N.R. Jenzen-Jones. This piece originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer,

Recently, Sakr 122mm cargo rockets and their submunitions have been observed within Syria. This family of 122mm rockets is designed for use with the Russian BM-21 multiple rocket launcher (the so-called ‘Grad’, or ‘hail’) and other 122mm systems such as the Chinese Type 81 SPRL and Egyptian RL-21 and RC-21 launch vehicles. These surface-to-surface multiple rocket launcher systems are not designed for precise fires, but instead target wide areas; this effect is, of course, even more pronounced when firing submunition-dispensing rockets from these systems. Despite multiple reports to the contrary, these munitions are not Iranian, but were produced in Egypt at the Sakr Factory for Development Industries, a subsidiary of the Egyptian Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI). The AOI logo can be seen very clearly on the rocket in the video below, and the full name along with ‘Sakr Factory’ can be seen printed on the rockets in Arabic in the images at the bottom of this article.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPJs5ewh1CY

Sakr 122mm rockets are produced with high explosive (HE), leaflet, or submunition payloads. It is also believed that mine-dispensing and illumination varieties have been manufactured. Sakr 122mm rockets have been produced in four lengths, with designations of Sakr-10, Sakr-18, Sakr-36, and Sakr-45, for their approximate ranges. In reality, the maximum range varies depending on the payload of the rocket. Cargo rockets are produced in the -18, -36, and -45 varieties, with effective ranges of 17, 31, and 42 kilometres, respectively. The Sakr-10 and Sakr-18 models feature ‘S-form’ folding fins (as seen on the Soviet/Russian 9M22U and other 122mm rockets), whilst the Sakr-36 and Sakr-45 feature straight fins, as seen in the video above. Whilst the video description claims there were ‘over 100 bomb[lets]’, this is unlikely. Sakr-18 and Sakr-45 rockets contain 72 submunitions each, whilst Sakr-36 rockets contain 98. A mechanical time fuze causes the submunitions to eject from the carrier rocket (believed to occur at approximately 700m above ground, in the case of the Sakr series rockets). The fuze and rocket nose cone can be seen in the image below (credit).  Sakr rocket fuze as seen in Syria

Whilst information on the submunitions themselves is scarce, it appears that early rockets were loaded with Soviet and Chinese submunitions, including Chinese Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM) derived from US designs. Later rockets, including those in current production, are loaded with copies of the US M77 submunition; these are probably Egyptian-produced copies, although some may have been manufactured in China. Some western sources refer to this later submunition as an ‘M42D’, though it is unclear where this designation originates (other than the obvious allusion to the US M42 submunition). It is not clear whether this is an internal designation, or a term applied by an observer at a later date. The submunitions observed appear to be copies of the US M77 submunition, rather than the M42, and feature the wider ribbon necessary to arm the munition when released from a cargo rocket. The bomblets pictures are one of two confirmed submunitions known to be used with Sakr 122mm rockets, and are sometimes referred to simply as the ‘Sakr Type B’ submunition. Both the ‘Type A’ and ‘Type B’ appear to be copies of the US M77.

Sakr sub in Syria

M77 submunitions, and the related M42 and M46, have been widely copied throughout the globe. Nonetheless, they all operate in a similar basic fashion, as follows: Once the submunitions are ejected from the carrier the ribbon unfurls in the airstream. This ribbon flutters as it falls, causing motion that unscrews a screw it is attached to. Once unscrewed, a spring-loaded detonator slide safety is released to the side of the munition, leaving the screw directly above the detonator. Impact inertia drives the screw into the detonator upon impact. If the submunition impacts on an angle, or has its fall broken by foliage or similar, it may fail to detonate. This leaves the screw perilously close to the detonator, and any wind can cause the ribbon to move the screw back and forth across the face of the detonator. Submunitions found in such a state are extremely dangerous. One EOD specialist who I spoke with had the following to say:

I worked for several years cleaning up after firings of the US MLRS with the M77; we had the utmost respect for the sensitivity of the detonator. If the wind reached 6 knots at ground level we would depart the range area, any movement of the ribbon on dud munitions could potentially cause detonation. Normally we could not just quit for the day, so we would retreat to our safe zone to play cards and wait to see if the wind died down. On numerous occasions while waiting we would have detonations within the area from wind disturbance.

The submunitions seen in the video above appear, in most cases, to have failed to arm. However, towards the end of the video a submunition with an armed fuze can be seen (circled in image below). This is extremely dangerous to move, handle, or approach.

Sakr subs in Syria

Remember, all unexploded munitions – especially submunitions such as these – are dangerous. You can visit RRMA for more information. As always, if you see any UXO, remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:

AVOID the area
RECORD all relevant information from a safe distance
MARK the area to warn others
SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities 

Should any readers have further information on the submunitions used with Sakr 122mm rockets, or new photos or footage of such rockets or submunitions, please get in touch. My thanks to Jeff Osborne, Michael Weber, Peter White, Neil Marshall, and Travis Owen for their assistance with this piece. 

Additional Material

This promotional video from AOI/Sakr FDI is available on my YouTube Channel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mcEhRDfFSY

Top image courtesy of Nicole Tung. You can see more images at The Rogue Adventurer

By N.R. Jenzen-Jones. This piece originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer,
Above: a 9M79-1 missile being fired in Kazakhstan during exercise Combat Commonwealth 2011. Credit: Grigoriy Bedenko.
The 9K79 Tochka (Точка; ‘point’) tactical ballistic missile launcher has been identified in a recent video from Syria, seen below. Whilst the YouTube video misidentifies the system as a ‘Scud’, it is almost certainly a 9K79, also referred to as the OTR-21 (OTR: оперативно-тактический ракетный комплекс, or ‘Tactical-operational Missile Complex’), or by its NATO reporting name, the SS-21 Scarab. This Soviet-produced system has a maximum range of 70km, and a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of approximately 150m. An updated version, the 9K79-1 Tochka-U (Scarab-B),was introduced in 1989 with a maximum range of 120km and a CEP of approximately 92m. Syria is thought to possess both iterations, having received its first deliveries of the earlier 9K79 (Scarab-A) systems from the USSR in 1983. Syria is suspected of supplying 9K79s to North Korea to be reverse-engineered for use in their domestic missile development program.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_RX-NyqhDeITwo 9K79 or 9K79-1 tactical ballistic missile systems operating in Syria.

The 9K79/9K79-1 is a mobile missile launch system, consisting of the 9M79 solid-fuel missile and the 9P129 6x6 wheeled Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL). Various payloads can be delivered by the 9M79 missile, including HE-frag warheads, submunitions, and nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. A passive radar-homing HE warhead also exists. Syria is known to possess 9M79F (9M79-1F, for the 9K79-1) missiles with 9N123F 120kg HE-fragmentation warheads, and may also possess 9M79K (9M79-1K, for the 9K79-1) missiles, featuring the 9N123K cargo warhead containing 60 9N24 fragmentation submunitions. It is also possible that Syria has purchased or developed delivery systems for chemical or biological weapons.
Diagrams of the 9N123F and 9N123K warheads described above.
The 9P129 (or one of several later variations) TEL vehicle is based on the Object (объект) 5921 6x6 wheeled vehicle, which also serves as a base for the 9A33 TEL for the 9K33 Osa surface-to-air missile system (NATO reporting name: SA-8 Gecko). The 9P129 has a road speed of approximately 60km/h, is fully amphibious, air-transportable, and provided with NBC protection. A trained crew can setup and ready a missile for launch in around 15-20 minutes from a previously mobile position.  9K79-1 systems were used by Russian forces in the both Chechen Wars and in the Georgian-Ossetian Conflict.
9K79-1 Tochka-U systems on parade in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Credit: Фальшивомонетчик (Wikimedia).
The presence of these systems is an interesting development; they are certainly a lot more accurate than the 9K52 Luna-M (FROG-7) rockets and R-17/R-17M (Scud-B/Scud-C) missiles which Syria also possesses. Please note that many media outlets are incorrectly reporting any large rocket or missile as a ‘Scud’. This confusion is partly due to US government-issued statements referring to ‘Scud-type’ missiles. All systems should be positively identified before being referred to as ‘Scuds’, and it should be noted that there are significant differences between the different missiles collectively referred to as ‘Scuds’. Should any readers see further evidence of 9K79/9K79-1 use in Syria, please contact me.
Remember, all unexploded munitions are dangerous. You can visit RRMA for more information. As always, if you see any UXO, remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:
•AVOID the area
•RECORD all relevant information from a safe distance
•MARK the area to warn others
•SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities
My thanks to Yuri Lyamin for his assistance with this piece. 

By N.R. Jenzen-Jones. This piece originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer,

Above: a 9M79-1 missile being fired in Kazakhstan during exercise Combat Commonwealth 2011. Credit: Grigoriy Bedenko.

The 9K79 Tochka (Точка; ‘point’) tactical ballistic missile launcher has been identified in a recent video from Syria, seen below. Whilst the YouTube video misidentifies the system as a ‘Scud’, it is almost certainly a 9K79, also referred to as the OTR-21 (OTR: оперативно-тактический ракетный комплекс, or ‘Tactical-operational Missile Complex’), or by its NATO reporting name, the SS-21 Scarab. This Soviet-produced system has a maximum range of 70km, and a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of approximately 150m. An updated version, the 9K79-1 Tochka-U (Scarab-B),was introduced in 1989 with a maximum range of 120km and a CEP of approximately 92m. Syria is thought to possess both iterations, having received its first deliveries of the earlier 9K79 (Scarab-A) systems from the USSR in 1983. Syria is suspected of supplying 9K79s to North Korea to be reverse-engineered for use in their domestic missile development program.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_RX-NyqhDeI
Two 9K79 or 9K79-1 tactical ballistic missile systems operating in Syria.

The 9K79/9K79-1 is a mobile missile launch system, consisting of the 9M79 solid-fuel missile and the 9P129 6x6 wheeled Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL). Various payloads can be delivered by the 9M79 missile, including HE-frag warheads, submunitions, and nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. A passive radar-homing HE warhead also exists. Syria is known to possess 9M79F (9M79-1F, for the 9K79-1) missiles with 9N123F 120kg HE-fragmentation warheads, and may also possess 9M79K (9M79-1K, for the 9K79-1) missiles, featuring the 9N123K cargo warhead containing 60 9N24 fragmentation submunitions. It is also possible that Syria has purchased or developed delivery systems for chemical or biological weapons.

9N123F9N123K with 60 9N24 submunitionsDiagrams of the 9N123F and 9N123K warheads described above.

The 9P129 (or one of several later variations) TEL vehicle is based on the Object (объект) 5921 6x6 wheeled vehicle, which also serves as a base for the 9A33 TEL for the 9K33 Osa surface-to-air missile system (NATO reporting name: SA-8 Gecko). The 9P129 has a road speed of approximately 60km/h, is fully amphibious, air-transportable, and provided with NBC protection. A trained crew can setup and ready a missile for launch in around 15-20 minutes from a previously mobile position.  9K79-1 systems were used by Russian forces in the both Chechen Wars and in the Georgian-Ossetian Conflict.

9K79-1 Tochka-U on parade in Yekat9K79-1 Tochka-U systems on parade in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Credit: Фальшивомонетчик (Wikimedia).

The presence of these systems is an interesting development; they are certainly a lot more accurate than the 9K52 Luna-M (FROG-7) rockets and R-17/R-17M (Scud-B/Scud-C) missiles which Syria also possesses. Please note that many media outlets are incorrectly reporting any large rocket or missile as a ‘Scud’. This confusion is partly due to US government-issued statements referring to ‘Scud-type’ missiles. All systems should be positively identified before being referred to as ‘Scuds’, and it should be noted that there are significant differences between the different missiles collectively referred to as ‘Scuds’. Should any readers see further evidence of 9K79/9K79-1 use in Syria, please contact me.

Remember, all unexploded munitions are dangerous. You can visit RRMA for more information. As always, if you see any UXO, remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:

AVOID the area

RECORD all relevant information from a safe distance

MARK the area to warn others

SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities

My thanks to Yuri Lyamin for his assistance with this piece. 

cjchivers:

Data Sharing:  The ATK-EB Fuze.

Commonly associated with cluster munition strikes from Soviet-era (and Russian*) air-delivered dispensers, including the PTAB anti-armor and ZAB incendiary submunitions strikes that have been documented repeatedly in recent months in Syria’s civil war.  

The ATK-EB is a mechanical delay fuze, which causes a dispenser of submunitions to open during descent at a pre-set time after the dispenser’s release from an attacking aircraft. The top three images, of an ATK-EB found in Marea after the Syrian Air Force PTAB 2.5M strike there on Dec. 12, gives a sense of the fuze’s markings and scale. The bottom image, from Ghouta on Dec. 19, shows how the fuze fits into the nose of an RBK dispenser

*Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, has denied that Russian-made cluster munitions have been used in Syria. The only charitable way to characterize that denial is to offer that perhaps Mr. Lavrov was engaging in misdirection by word play, as these weapons, by their date stamps, appeared to have been manufactured during the late Soviet period, and not during the period of the current, post-union Russian state. So as a matter of attribution they could be called Soviet than Russian. There is no question, however, of their geographic, if not political, provenance: They are Russian-made, no matter statements otherwise from the Kremlin’s inner circle. And they have been used in Syria.

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHS

Top three, by the author. Marea, Syria. Dec. 13. Bottom image, by Karm Seif/Shaam News Network. Ghouta, Syria. Via Reuters. Dec. 19. 

N.R. Jenzen-JonesThis post originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer. 
Whilst many observers and media sources have been mistaking ZAB-2.5 incendiary submunitions for white phosphorus (WP) munitions, it appears that one incident showcasing limited use of WP has gone largely overlooked. On the 13th of November, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) Merkava Mark IV tanks engaged “Syrian mobile artillery units”, in response to mortar rounds fired by Syrian government forces impacting near an Israeli military position, according to an IDF spokesman.
One of our readers pointed out the photograph seen above, taken by photographer Ariel Schalit, which appears to show the explosion of a unitary white phosphorus projectile. Unlike cargo projectiles like the M825A1 projectile (described in this piece), unitary (conventional) WP projectiles contain a solid mass of WP and a central bursting charge. They are typically employed with a point detonating fuze, which functions upon contact with the target. The fuze detonates the central burster, dispersing the WP filler. The video below shows the detonation and dispersal pattern of a conventional WP artillery projectile, in this case a US-made 155mm M110A1 shell.


According to observers, the image shows shells fired by the Syrian army exploding in the Syrian village of Bariqa, near the Israeli border. Whilst the IDF spokesman referred to ‘mortar rounds’ landing in Israel, it is unclear whether the ‘mobile artillery’ in question are self-propelled mortars or self-propelled howitzers. Syria is known to operate Soviet/Russian-produced 2S1 Gvozdika (122mm) and 2S3 Akatsiya (152mm) self-propelled howitzers, and is also believed to possess a number of Czech ShM vz.85 PRÁM-S 120mm self-propelled mortars (though this has not been confirmed). 2S1 systems can be seen in the video below , and 2S3 systems have been identified in material released by the US Department of State (also below).
2S1 self-propelled howitzers near Hama.
2S3 self-propelled gun-howitzers near Az Zabadani (US Department of State).
Each of these self-propelled howitzers have compatible WP projectiles, with some of the possibilities as follows:
122mm: The Soviet/Russian D-4 series WP smoke projectiles, in 122mm, contain approximately 3.6kg of WP in a 499mm long projectile (see below). Chinese Type 54 122mm WP smoke projectiles are similar in nature.
152mm: The D-540, In 152mm (actually 152.4mm), is a 689.7mm projectile which contains approximately 6.6kg of WP. The Chinese equivalent is the Type 66 152mm WP smoke projectile.
120mm mortar: The Russian D-5 120mm WP mortar round is also a conventional WP projectile, and is 592mm long. Yugoslav M64P1, Iranian ‘120 Smoke, WP’, and similar Chinese mortar projectiles are some of the many equivalents that may have been supplied to Syria.

At this stage, the 2S1 and 2S3 systems seem the most likely fit, but nothing can be confirmed. If any of our readers have further images or information which might point to which system and which munitions were used in the attack pictured, please get in touch.

Our thanks to Yoav Geva for the tip on the WP photo. Thanks are also due to Alex Diehl, Yuri Lyamin, and Bjørn Holst Jespersen for their assistance. The 122mm D-4 diagram/image is taken from a US NAVEOD publication (Unclassified). Some information referenced is drawn from Jane’s Ammunition 2009-2010. 
Remember, all unexploded munitions are dangerous. You can visit RRMA for more information. As always, if you see any UXO, remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:
•AVOID the area
•RECORD all relevant information from a safe distance
•MARK the area to warn others
•SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities

N.R. Jenzen-Jones
This post originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer

Whilst many observers and media sources have been mistaking ZAB-2.5 incendiary submunitions for white phosphorus (WP) munitions, it appears that one incident showcasing limited use of WP has gone largely overlooked. On the 13th of November, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) Merkava Mark IV tanks engaged “Syrian mobile artillery units”, in response to mortar rounds fired by Syrian government forces impacting near an Israeli military position, according to an IDF spokesman.

One of our readers pointed out the photograph seen above, taken by photographer Ariel Schalit, which appears to show the explosion of a unitary white phosphorus projectile. Unlike cargo projectiles like the M825A1 projectile (described in this piece), unitary (conventional) WP projectiles contain a solid mass of WP and a central bursting charge. They are typically employed with a point detonating fuze, which functions upon contact with the target. The fuze detonates the central burster, dispersing the WP filler. The video below shows the detonation and dispersal pattern of a conventional WP artillery projectile, in this case a US-made 155mm M110A1 shell.

According to observers, the image shows shells fired by the Syrian army exploding in the Syrian village of Bariqa, near the Israeli border. Whilst the IDF spokesman referred to ‘mortar rounds’ landing in Israel, it is unclear whether the ‘mobile artillery’ in question are self-propelled mortars or self-propelled howitzers. Syria is known to operate Soviet/Russian-produced 2S1 Gvozdika (122mm) and 2S3 Akatsiya (152mm) self-propelled howitzers, and is also believed to possess a number of Czech ShM vz.85 PRÁM-S 120mm self-propelled mortars (though this has not been confirmed). 2S1 systems can be seen in the video below , and 2S3 systems have been identified in material released by the US Department of State (also below).


2S1 self-propelled howitzers near Hama.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Syrian artillery slides 2-10-2012.pptx [R2S3 self-propelled gun-howitzers near Az Zabadani (US Department of State).

Each of these self-propelled howitzers have compatible WP projectiles, with some of the possibilities as follows:

122mm: The Soviet/Russian D-4 series WP smoke projectiles, in 122mm, contain approximately 3.6kg of WP in a 499mm long projectile (see below). Chinese Type 54 122mm WP smoke projectiles are similar in nature.

152mm: The D-540, In 152mm (actually 152.4mm), is a 689.7mm projectile which contains approximately 6.6kg of WP. The Chinese equivalent is the Type 66 152mm WP smoke projectile.

120mm mortar: The Russian D-5 120mm WP mortar round is also a conventional WP projectile, and is 592mm long. Yugoslav M64P1, Iranian ‘120 Smoke, WP’, and similar Chinese mortar projectiles are some of the many equivalents that may have been supplied to Syria.

D-4 122mm WP smoke projectile (RUS)

At this stage, the 2S1 and 2S3 systems seem the most likely fit, but nothing can be confirmed. If any of our readers have further images or information which might point to which system and which munitions were used in the attack pictured, please get in touch.

Our thanks to Yoav Geva for the tip on the WP photo. Thanks are also due to Alex Diehl, Yuri Lyamin, and Bjørn Holst Jespersen for their assistance. The 122mm D-4 diagram/image is taken from a US NAVEOD publication (Unclassified). Some information referenced is drawn from Jane’s Ammunition 2009-2010. 

Remember, all unexploded munitions are dangerous. You can visit RRMA for more information. As always, if you see any UXO, remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:

AVOID the area

RECORD all relevant information from a safe distance

MARK the area to warn others

SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities

N.R. Jenzen-Jones
This post originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer

There have been a number of claims, both from the ground in Syria and from media abroad, that Syrian government forces have been using white phosphorus (WP) munitions to target rebel positions or civilian populations. Unfortunately, these reports appear to be confusing the appearance of ZAB series cluster bomb submunitions (likely ZAB-2.5 submunitions) with that of certain WP munitions. To date, I have seen no evidence of WP use by either side in the Syrian conflict.

The Al Jazeera report above is typical of the claims of WP use I have seen to date. Note that the still image at the end of the report appears to show a WP munition, though this is likely a file photo. If someone knows this not to be the case, please get in touch with me.

Famous images and video depicting the use of WP munitions by the IDF in Gaza in 2008/2009 have provided many people with their understanding of the appearance of WP munitions. One of the most recognisable features in these is the many tell-tale ‘snakelike’ trails of smoke associated with M825A1 155mm WP projectiles, and similar. The M825A1 is designed to produce a dispersed smokescreen by ejecting 116 ¾ inch felt wedges impregnated with WP over the target location. These wedges ignite upon contact with the air, and fall to the ground burning. The twisting trails left by this process have earned the projectile the nickname of ‘Medusa’ in some artillery circles.

M825A1 155mm WP smoke projectile [US]

Other WP munitions are unitary in design, however, and have quite a different dispersal pattern. The M110A1 155m projectile is one such example; see this video for an example of its detonation.

The detonation of RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 cluster bombs (and other, similar cluster munitions) exhibits similar characteristics to that of cargo WP munitions, such as the M825A1, when such munitions are employed in an airburst fashion. Because ZAB-2.5 submunitions are ignited upon ejection from the cluster bomb they are carried in, they fall to the ground burning – appearing somewhat like the wedges of burning WP described above. There are some notable differences, however:

  1. ZAB-2.5 submunitions are much larger than the small pieces of WP in most cargo munitions of that type.
  2. ZAB-2.5 submunitions ejected from an RPK-250 ZAB-2.5 are fewer in number than WP wedges ejected from munitions such as the M825A1. The RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 cluster bomb carries 48 ZAB-2.5 submunitions, whereas the M825A1 projectile carries 116 wedges of WP-impregnated felt.
  3. WP wedges will produce more smoke for their size, and will generally produce a smoke that is thicker and whiter in appearance.  (This does not Take into account other materiel ignited by either type of munition).
  4. Some ZAB series submunitions contain bursting charges, which will explode after a given time, discouraging people from attempting to extinguish the submunitions.
  5. ZAB submunitions will often leave behind burnt-out remnants of their casing, whereas WP will leave only small lumps of unoxidised WP, if anything. Remnants of the carrier munitions will be left behind in both cases, and may assist with differential identification.

The image below shows an M825A1 155mm WP projectile exploding over Gaza in 2009. The video shows what is likely an RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 cluster bomb deploying submunitions over Deir ez-Zour in Syria.

Israeli_phosphorus_Gaza_2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3xSiEO7ISL4

This article should not be taken as a definitive statement that no WP munitions have been used in Syria, simply that I have yet to see any evidence of such. Should anyone have information to the contrary, please contact me!

I will have more on WP munitions in an upcoming article, looking at Israeli 155mm projectiles in the most recent Gaza conflict. Gaza image copyright Getty Images. M825A1 diagram taken from an official US government publication.

As always, an arms specialist (preferably several) should be consulted before confirming a positive ID on any arms or munitions. For journalists, media organisations, and NGOs, the RRMA can assist with this process.

Remember, submunitions are particularly dangerous. Attempts to extinguish ZAB-2.5 submunitions, in particular, could place you at risk of being injured by the bursting charges. As always, if you see any UXO, remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:

AVOID the area

RECORD all relevant information from a safe distance

MARK the area to warn others

SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities

N.R. Jenzen-JonesThis post originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer. 
RBK-250 cluster bombs, containing ZAB-2.5 submunitions, have recently been identified in Syria. There has been a lot of confusion surrounding both the cluster munitions themselves, and the submunitions, with contrasting and conflicting claims. First and foremost, it is important to note that the RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 250kg cluster bomb, as sighted in Syria, contains three different variations of ZAB-2.5 submunitions: one with an incendiary (thermite) composition, one with a thermite + high explosive composition, and one with a thermite + jellied incendiary composition.
ZAB (Zazhigatelnaya Aviatsionnaya Bomba; incendiary aircraft bomb) series weapons include a range of unitary incendiary bombs as well as submunitions (AKA ‘bomblets’). The RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 cluster bomb contains 48 submunitions in total, with 16 ZAB-2.5 variation 1 submunitions, 16 ZAB-2.5 var.2 submunitions, and 16 ZAB-2.5 var.3 submunitions. The bomb itself will be marked ‘RBK-250 ZAB-2,5’ as seen in the image below (rotated for ease of viewing). Its nominal weight is 250kg (hence the ‘-250’ designation), with an actual ready weight of approximately 194kg.  The bomb is 1467-1492mm in length, has a body diameter of 325mm and a wingspan diameter of 410mm, and contains a 0.7kg explosive separation/ignition charge.


The ZAB-2.5 submunitions are 244-249mm long, and 68mm in diameter. The three variants of submunitions are as follows:
Variant 1 – weight: 2.3kg; incendiary composition: thermite; approx. burn time: 150 – 180 seconds.
Variant 2 – weight: 2.5g; incendiary composition: thermite; approx. burn time: 120 – 180 seconds.
Variant 3 – weight: 2.2kg; incendiary composition: thermite + jellied fuel mixture; approx. burn time: 3-9 mins.

Variants 2 and 3 also contain PETN (тэн) bursting charges, designed to discourage and impede attempts to extinguish the burning submunitions. These charges are initiated by a pyrotechnic block delay, after the submunitions have reached the ground and burned for some time. In the case of Variant 3, this charge has the added effect of dispersing the napalm-like filler over a wide area, after the thermite portion of the submunition has burned down. The thermite component of the submunitions is capable of penetrating 3-4mm of steel, and igniting combustible materials.
The ZAB-2.5 submunitions are ignited upon ejection from the RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 and fall down burning. This ignition process remains reasonably reliable over time, unlike the fuzes seen in some other cluster bomb submunitions identified in Syria, such as the AO-1SCh, however dud munitions are still likely. Incorrect employment of the munitions, such as unsuitable ejection height or speed, may also contribute to an increased dud rate.

Submunitions are likely to be scattered across the following areas, based on their ejection height:
500-750m:  3,900-11,600m21500-1700m: 16,900-28,400m2
Thanks are due to Yuri Lyamin, Ivan Kochin, and Alex Diehl for their assistance. The diagrams are from an official Russian publication, annotated in orange by the author.  The topmost photo is of unknown copyright, and is not from Syria. 
Should you see any further examples of ZAB-2.5 cluster munition use in Syria, or have any other information to contribute, please get in touch with me.
Update 28/11/2012: The video below shows what is likely the aftermath of a strike with ZAB-2.5 submunitions. Note submunition casings.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=1cecfeYCozY
Update 4/12/2012: Another very good video showing ZAB-2.5 casings and RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 bomb remnants.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9yxc97LDLU&sns=fb
Update 6/12/2012: An excellent video of ZAB submunitions igniting upon dispersal, and falling near Deir ez-Zour. (H/t Bjørn Holst Jespersen).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xSiEO7ISL4&feature=youtu.be
Remember, submunitions are particularly dangerous. Attempts to extinguish these submunitions, in particular, could place you at risk of being injured by the bursting charges. As always, if you see any UXO, remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:
•AVOID the area
•RECORD all relevant information from a safe distance
•MARK the area to warn others
•SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities

N.R. Jenzen-Jones
This post originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer

RBK-250 cluster bombs, containing ZAB-2.5 submunitions, have recently been identified in Syria. There has been a lot of confusion surrounding both the cluster munitions themselves, and the submunitions, with contrasting and conflicting claims. First and foremost, it is important to note that the RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 250kg cluster bomb, as sighted in Syria, contains three different variations of ZAB-2.5 submunitions: one with an incendiary (thermite) composition, one with a thermite + high explosive composition, and one with a thermite + jellied incendiary composition.

ZAB (Zazhigatelnaya Aviatsionnaya Bomba; incendiary aircraft bomb) series weapons include a range of unitary incendiary bombs as well as submunitions (AKA ‘bomblets’). The RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 cluster bomb contains 48 submunitions in total, with 16 ZAB-2.5 variation 1 submunitions, 16 ZAB-2.5 var.2 submunitions, and 16 ZAB-2.5 var.3 submunitions. The bomb itself will be marked ‘RBK-250 ZAB-2,5’ as seen in the image below (rotated for ease of viewing). Its nominal weight is 250kg (hence the ‘-250’ designation), with an actual ready weight of approximately 194kg.  The bomb is 1467-1492mm in length, has a body diameter of 325mm and a wingspan diameter of 410mm, and contains a 0.7kg explosive separation/ignition charge.

The ZAB-2.5 submunitions are 244-249mm long, and 68mm in diameter. The three variants of submunitions are as follows:

Variant 1 – weight: 2.3kg; incendiary composition: thermite; approx. burn time: 150 – 180 seconds.

Variant 2 – weight: 2.5g; incendiary composition: thermite; approx. burn time: 120 – 180 seconds.

Variant 3 – weight: 2.2kg; incendiary composition: thermite + jellied fuel mixture; approx. burn time: 3-9 mins.

Variants 2 and 3 also contain PETN (тэн) bursting charges, designed to discourage and impede attempts to extinguish the burning submunitions. These charges are initiated by a pyrotechnic block delay, after the submunitions have reached the ground and burned for some time. In the case of Variant 3, this charge has the added effect of dispersing the napalm-like filler over a wide area, after the thermite portion of the submunition has burned down. The thermite component of the submunitions is capable of penetrating 3-4mm of steel, and igniting combustible materials.

The ZAB-2.5 submunitions are ignited upon ejection from the RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 and fall down burning. This ignition process remains reasonably reliable over time, unlike the fuzes seen in some other cluster bomb submunitions identified in Syria, such as the AO-1SCh, however dud munitions are still likely. Incorrect employment of the munitions, such as unsuitable ejection height or speed, may also contribute to an increased dud rate.

Submunitions are likely to be scattered across the following areas, based on their ejection height:

500-750m:  3,900-11,600m2
1500-1700m: 16,900-28,400m2

Thanks are due to Yuri Lyamin, Ivan Kochin, and Alex Diehl for their assistance. The diagrams are from an official Russian publication, annotated in orange by the author.  The topmost photo is of unknown copyright, and is not from Syria. 

Should you see any further examples of ZAB-2.5 cluster munition use in Syria, or have any other information to contribute, please get in touch with me.

Update 28/11/2012: The video below shows what is likely the aftermath of a strike with ZAB-2.5 submunitions. Note submunition casings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=1cecfeYCozY

Update 4/12/2012: Another very good video showing ZAB-2.5 casings and RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 bomb remnants.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9yxc97LDLU&sns=fb

Update 6/12/2012: An excellent video of ZAB submunitions igniting upon dispersal, and falling near Deir ez-Zour. (H/t Bjørn Holst Jespersen).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xSiEO7ISL4&feature=youtu.be

Remember, submunitions are particularly dangerous. Attempts to extinguish these submunitions, in particular, could place you at risk of being injured by the bursting charges. As always, if you see any UXO, remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:

AVOID the area
RECORD all relevant information from a safe distance
MARK the area to warn others
SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities