Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sarab 1 ,2 &3 Active Protection System

In the year 2012 militants in Syria started using Anti-Tank Guided Missiles such as 9M113 Konkurs and 9K115-2 Metis-M that were stolen from Syrian Arab Army's inventory. The limited number of such ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles) did not cause a significant problem for the Syrian Arab Armed Forces (SAA) back then, as the Syrian Forces were able to overcome the limited number of casualties inflicted by these ATGMs.

That situation gradually shifted when militants were supplied by their backers in the United States, Turkey, and Gulf States with more ATGMs. These included: 9M113 Konkurs, HJ-8 (Red Arrow), and BGM-71 TOW ATGMs; the delivery of these ATGMs happened in large numbers and was significant enough to cause a major shift on the battlefield, and perhaps the most significant shift was when the Syrian Arab Army withdrew from the city of Idlib in the year 2015 after militants used these ATGMs to destroy an estimated 40 SAA (Syrian Arab Army) Tanks.

After the Syrian Government withdrew from Idlib, the Syrian Military Intelligence studied aspects of the battles and came up with a full comprehensive report that was submitted to the Syrian High Command; with a suggestion that the threat of ATGMs must be addressed and eliminated.
The Syrian High Command addressed the situation by discussing the available options, such as the purchasing of modern armor and protection systems from the Russian Federation and countries in Eastern Europe.
Around this time, the Syrian Scientific Research Center (SSRC) provided and alternative solution, a jamming device against all SACLOS (Semi-automatic command to line of sight) guided ATGMs which were put into action in early 2012.

The Syrian High Command chose to back up the solution provided by the Syrian Scientific Research Center for multiple reasons: the economic factors, the length of time required to bring new armor to the front, and the fact that any domestic solution will mean less dependence on foreign options. Thus, the Syrian High Command instructed all Syrian Intelligence Agencies to provide all required data and aid the the SSRC.

To start a more specific and valid solution, the first step was to familiarize the SSRC with what tanks were encountering on the frontlines; such as the BGM-71 TOW. The first time it was encountered was was during the 1973 war against Israel and then in Lebanon during the 1982 war and finally the Iranian supplied variant of the Missile "Toophan" system which is used by the SAA to a limited extent. However, the SSRC had to have number of samples of the BGM-71 TOW which were already being used by the militants in Syria.

The first BGM-71 TOW captured by the SAA was in 2014 in which a joint operation with Hezbollah led to the capture of which included three missiles and one launcher. While the Syrian Intelligence Agencies were able to provide number of different variants of the missile using many methods; the simplest method was to buy the missiles from militants directly using the Syrian Military intelligence who were able to buy 18 missiles and three launchers from one FSA formation in Southern Syria. A SyAAF (Syrian Arab Air Force) intelligence asset among the terrorist group Ahrar Al Sham was able to steal two missiles and two launchers in Idlib from Squr Al Ghab group. SyAAF Intelligence happened to be a commander of a group in Southern Syria – FSA Tribal forces – the commander provided another two missiles and one launcher. All of this happened around the same time period when the Russian Air Forces were deployed in Syria in late 2015

After SSRC was provided with what it needed, they were able to initiate the latest active testing phase of the system they had constructed. The system's method was very simple, the new system generates and mimic the IR signal on the back of the missiles which providing false targeting information to the SACLOS Guided ATGM launch base, and thus the launchers will give false information to the ATGM itself and this will mean that the missile ends up losing and missing its target.

The very first prototype of Mirage (Arabic: Sarab) was placed on a T-62 tank –SSRC the preferred tank of choice for testing any system – for front line use; and was given economic priority, the need to have a system that can be produced in large quantities, and that could be fitted on many different types of vehicles was sorely needed. The initial prototype had a rugged initial design, with a plan for a future upgrade for a complete protection package.

The first battlefield testing took place in Khanaser district in the Southern Countryside of Aleppo where the system had its first successes against ISIS-Launched 9M113 Konkurs ATGMs,
then the tank was dispatched to the Countryside of Latakia for more battlefield tests, and here it encountered its first BGM-71 TOW systems: It successfully jammed the BGM-71 TOW systems. Based on the results yielded these two battlefield trials the system was adopted by the Syrian Ministry of Defence immediately, and as soon as the first rugged jamming device was adopted the SSRC initiated its large-scale production programme and started working on its upgrades to the system simultaneously.

The first variant Mirage-1 (Sarab-1) had over 80% effectiveness against all SACLOS ATGMs, it utilizes either a classical IR emitters or LEDs depending the production model, can work for 6 straight hours and can be easily mounted on all vehicles as well as stationary checkpoints and defensive points.

The effects of the Mirage-1 (Sarab-1) system were seen on the fronts of the Southwestern Countryside of Aleppo, where SAA armor saw a significant decrease in loss statistics, and thus the militants began using BGM-71 TOW ATGMs on other non-armored targets such as buildings and barricades (which lacked the Sarab-1) in an attempt to score hits after failing hit SAA armor targets.

Although the first variant Mirage-1 (Sarab-1) was a huge battlefield success, it had number of drawbacks such as the large source of energy it required when it was wired to a vehicle’s electrical system. The system also shortened the lifespan of the batteries in vehicles, and it was not as resilient to harsh environmental factors as planned.
Thus it was replaced by a newer more durable variant known as Mirage-2 (Sarab-2)

The Mirage-2 (Sarab-2) System utilized newer emitters and was fitted with new more powerful batteries as an energy source which increased its operation time to 10 hours before requiring a recharge, and the system was fitted in a more durable external container which completely surrounded the system for more protection.

As far as battle effectiveness went, the system was a major success in the operations to liberate Aleppo in 2016 where militants who fired BGM-71 TOW ATGMs did so almost exclusively against infantry and fortifications where the use of ATGMs as their success rates against SAA armor were very limited as they were unable to score any hits on IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles) or tanks.

After the Syrian Scientific Research Center addressed all the design issues in the Mirage-1 by providing the Mirage-2 system, it switched its efforts to developing a complete soft-kill, or passive-countermeasure system. rather than only a jamming system. The pictures shown above are the latest pictures of the Mirage-3 (Sarab-3), on a T-62 tank which as fore mentioned is the preferred test tank for upgrades and modifications.

Here we see another set of lenses which could be a different type of emitters or LASER illumination sensors for incoming ATGMs. Also the new Mirage-3 (Sarab-3) Cover 360 degrees where the older models covered only ~180 degrees

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Regardless of what experts think of these systems, it is non-deniable that the SAA's heavy and light armor losses have been significantly decreased after adopting these systems into service.
*Special thanks for the Syrian Military Capabilities who took a serius risk by sharing this info with the world ,and for The Resistance for re editing this report  .

7 comments:

  1. Excellent summary and info, thank you for sharing it.

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  2. Good work but please improve your english grammar.

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  3. I do hope you can develope a anti-missle or gun that follows the Tow, etc aiming laser back to Launcher.

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  4. It might be a good idea to add a an array of simple IR illumination receivers and a corresponding devise inside - a circle of led lights, indicating, from what direction the tank is being lased. That might be useful.

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  5. My heart goes out to the sons and daughters of Syria that help to defend their Country

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  6. awesome to see syrian industry at work like this, a 360 deg full protection that makes even russia jealous,,maybe the system can be improved to detect what angle it is being lased at by the enemy and give these coordinates to the crew or firing system to lock on and return fire automatically or perhaps a way to destroy the incoming rocket before it reaches a certain proximity so more than one way to solve the problem,,but how vulnerable is this to sniper fire ?

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