UK identifies new Iraqi SAM launcher

Said_PVO 24-06-2002 02:12

UK identifies new Iraqi SAM launcher

21 June 2002

By Tim Ripley

A new mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) launcher system has been developed by the Iraqis and used against US and UK aircraft enforcing no-fly zones over the country.

Images released by the UK Ministry of Defence show the system deployed in the southern no-fly zone and firing missiles at Royal Air Force aircraft.

The new Iraqi system mounts twin S-125 Neva (NATO: SA-3 'Goa') missiles on a rotating launcher, carried on the back of a six- or eight-wheel truck.

S-125s were originally supplied to Iraq by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, but these missiles relied on static ground launchers. By mounting the missiles on mobile launchers the Iraqis have complicated US and UK efforts to monitor Iraq's air defences.

In the last two weeks in May, the Iraqis stepped up their harassment of UK and US air patrols. This followed a relative lull in their attempts to shoot down intruding aircraft, with only 25 no-fly zone incidents being reported by the Pentagon during the first four months of this year. The latest spate of attacks may confirm suspicions that the Iraqis were using the lull to build up their assets for a renewed attempt to hit a Western aircraft and score a major propaganda coup.

The Iraqis did achieve a success on 26 May when they claimed to have forced down a 'mystery' unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the north of the country. Iraqi television showed footage of the unidentified UAV, which appeared to be undamaged by anti-aircraft fire, being inspected by government troops.
Iraq's new S-125 Neva (SA-3 'Goa') SAM launcher vehicle in firing position. The vehicle was located by an RAF Tornado through its TIALD system during a patrol over the southern no fly zone in early 2002. (Photo: RAF via Tim Ripley)