Improvised (& Rechargeable) Batteries for SA-7 MANPADS
On the NYT, a report on the development among Syrian rebels of locally made and reusable batteries for the old SA-7 heat-seeking antiaircraft missile system, known as a “Strela” or “Arrow” in Russian.
With a link to a previous note by Nic Jenzen-Jones and a tip of hat to Damien Spleeters, who spotted these about ten days ago.
Improvised batteries are a potentially significant development, with implications not just in the air-defense war over rebel-held ground in Syria but also for civilian aviation. Quick background:
A weapon of a class often colloquially called Stingers, as the best-known American model is known, Strelas have for decades been the most commonly seen antiaircraft missiles among rebel and terrorist groups. But the limited availability and short life span of their batteries, which are attached to the exterior of the tube that contains the missile, has meant that nonstate groups often struggle with power supply, posing limits on the Strela’s use.
But that limit could fade away, and old stocks of missiles out of state control could become useful anew, if improvised batteries are developed at any scale.
Matthew Schroeder, a missile proliferation analyst at Small Arms Survey, an independent research project based in Geneva, said the design was “extremely worrisome.”
Strelas have appeared in conflicts since the Vietnam War. Untold numbers were stolen from Libya’s arsenals during the uprising that deposed Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. They have recently been documented in Syria and eastern Ukraine, where a shoulder-fired missile was believed to have hit a Ukrainian military transport plane near Luhansk in June, killing 49 troops.
“If these devices proliferate,” Mr. Schroeder said of the improvised batteries, “black-market missiles that are currently unusable because their batteries are dead could become operational again, with potentially devastating consequences.”
We have many more details than the NYT could publish this morning, due to space constraints, and will post them here or on the At War blog next week. (Busy today: onion and garlic harvest is on, there are posts to set for a new three-sided shed, and fish to haul tonight out on the rips. Time to switch off the Internet, and live.)
ABOUT THE IMAGES
Top, first generation of improvised battery designed by Major Abu al-Baraa, who is shown, below, with the second generation, which he fielded this week in northern Syria. Courtesy of Major Abu al-Baraa.