Saturday, January 7, 2017

Syrian Air Defense Pantsir-S1

Syrian Acquisition of Pantsir S-1 air-defense systems (SA-22 Greyhound) is a well-known fact today thanks to the few pictures taken during the current war. But as we all know, Syria was never this open about its inventory, and for years before the war, everyone with the least interest in the Syrian military knew about the news of Syrian interest in the Pantsir system. Today, we are going to have a look at the full story.

After Assad’s visit to Russia in 2005, news of new weapon deals between Syria and Russia took on the media worldwide, and kept resurfacing for years. One of those deals, is the 2006 Pantsir S1. It was a 2 stage bargain, Syria would receive 36 units, and afterwards, there were 14 optional units, estimated at $1 billion for the whole deal.
As expected, Israel staged a diplomatic war against the deal, supporting the effort with claims from media sources, like in the Jane's Defence Weekly article that claimed those systems real destination was Iran (which was still under international sanctions and arms ban at the time), and that Syria is just playing an intermediary part in the deal. Other journalists and followers claimed the systems would end up in Hezbollah hands. Several Russian officials denied these claims.
Deliveries started before the first stages of the Syrian crisis in 2011 (some are reported back in 2007-2009). But by 2012 all 36 units were delivered. Judging by the delivery time, the systems are equipped with the UHF band, PESA target acquisition radars, with an up to 32km detection range.

During the Russian intervention in Syria in 2016, Russia agreed to supply the second stage of the 2006 deal, especially after the rising tensions with Turkey and the few aerial incidents near the borders. These, unlike the first batch, were equipped with the more advanced AESA Target acquisition radars, with a range that can detect and track targets from 40km (wider ranges is reported, probably under ideal conditions), and a higher jamming resistance.

The older units were armed with 12  57E6-E short range SA missiles - export version -, with an average range of 20km ,we can confirm that all the older systems are armed with 12 from unofficial photos from the social media like this one .

However, newer systems appeared in leaked pictures with 6 missiles only, which may mean that the newer systems have a new missile (or maybe at least a non-export Russian version). This is highly possible, if we take in consideration that Russia brought many arms into Syria with no intention to take them back (it would be easier and more efficient to sell the weapons to Syria, than to transport them back to Russia).

No detailed information is available regarding the operational history of the Syrian Pantsir S1 systems. But back in 2012, during the Turkish RF-4E incident on 22/01/2012, some sources reported that the fighter was shot down using the Pantsir S1 automatic guns, however no evidence was presented at the time ,just a video that confirm the use of an undefined automatic gun .


Another incident is the December 2014 Israeli strikes on AA batteries near Damascus, the aggressors used Popeye cruise missiles (probably fired from F-15 strike fighters), this time we are sure the Pantsir was behind the failed strike, the location, pictures, and local media reports all point at this fact, but again, no further details are available.

At the end, it was hard enough to find evidence of the systems’ existence in Syria, it only makes since that it is even harder to determine how well they do on the proving ground. But looking back at the 2006 Pantsir deal, we realize that it is one of few Sryian arms deals that were fulfilled despite the international pressure.
special thanks to my friend Kane 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Syrian T-55 Upgrades : North Korean FCS

One of the mysteries of the SAA's arsenal are the soviet T-55 tanks that have been upgraded with North Korean equipment. Today, we brought you an exclusive close look at the details of these old yet stubborn and reckless metal beasts.
The most visually distinctive factor of this version of Syrian t-55s is of course the famous laser rangefinder situated above the barrel's base, for most people, this was the only known added device.
A closer look at the rabbit's hole, however, shows that there is a whole new fire control system added.
On the outside, the only visible part besides the 4km rangefinder is the sensor complex, which includes a barometer, a hygrometer, and a thermometer.
On the inside, a new ballistic computer is added, below is a picture of the control panel, which allows the gunner to add additional info like ammunition type/make, and wind speed and direction. The ballistic computer makes the calculations automatically based on the measurements it receives from the meters and the rangefinder.
The computer updates the output on the periscope. The periscope has also been modified for this purpose. The whole process is automatic and requires no human input other than the optional wind measurements ,with the ability to input in case any sensor was damaged . 

The computer also has a digital screen which shows the environment measurements and the range to the target.

 The last addition is panel that is used to control and synchronize the rangefinder.

Although this upgrade focus was the fire controls system, some t-55 that were fitted with this system were also fitted with a KPV 14.5 HMG, and smoke screen launchers.

But that is not all, although some parts were initial designed and manufactured in the PRK, the pictures we got shows all control panels are labeled in Arabian. That is due to the fact that the system as a whole, was also developed by the Syrian Military Research Center ,and with technology provided by the Korean part.

The upgrade is not new, and it is obviously not comparable to its modern counterparts. But the fact that Syrians were able to fetch this development despite the technological blockage that Russian arms industry practices shows how much they are determined to developing and manufacturing heir own systems based on their study of the Korean (maybe Ukrainian, and/or Italian?) fire control systems they received .
special thanks to my friend Kane