(Damascus) In this, the third and final part on Weaponry Used in Syrian War, we come to the huge arsenal used by the Syrian army, the main combatant of terrorist and militant groups over the past eight years of war in Syria.
The Syrian Airforce (SAF) which was established in 1948, has resorted to only a few types of aircraft in aerial bombardment operations, mainly the Soviet/Russian-made MIG 21s, MIG 23s, Sukhoi 22s, Sukhoi 24s, YAK 130s, as well as military and attack helicopters including MI 14s, M24s, Kamov KA-27s, French-made Aerospatiale Gazelles, as well as a variety of unmanned attack planes, surveillance and reconnaissance drones.
The Mil Mi 24 (Hind in NATO terminology) variations, particularly the Mi 35 stand out as the most feared major attack helicopter gunships in providing close all-weather air support of ground forces in complicated operations. Its huge arsenal of armament includes both guided, (fire and forget), unguided missiles and powerful machineguns make this monster a truly name “flying tank”.
The Syrian Air Defence, SAD was established in 1969. Its batteries have been remarkably successful in shooting down enemy drones, missiles and smart bombs. Its scoresheet was over 90% of the targets hit and destroyed in some incidents. The SAD deploys an array of SAMs (surface-to-air-missiles, some updated and modernized by Syrian scientists over the years, in terms of accuracy and range. The SAM Syrian collection includes S-75 Dvina, S125 Pechora, 2k12 Kub, Buk, Strela, Osa, Gvadrat and SAM 200.
The SAD also deploys the fatal Pantsir S1 medium range missile system, as well as an array of anti-aircraft artillery and machine guns. Most important of all, is the deployment of the latest version of balance-breaking “Triumphant” S 300 anti-missile/anti-aircraft batteries, after years of controversy, political pressure and stalling. The SAD, having fully recovered from deliberate acts of sabotage to its bases and control centres in the early phases of the Syrian conflict, now boasts one of the world’s best and most extensively integrated air-defence networks.
Syrian land forces SLF including its elite Republican Guards units and Special Forces brigades have spearheaded the fight against terrorist organisations, Islamic Jihadi groups as well as the Turkish backed FSA rebels. SLF have at their disposal an overwhelming fire power represented in thousands of Tanks, Rockets, Stalin Organs, Artillery mortars, Armoured Personnel Carriers, and Amphibious Crafts, to name a few.
Tanks used in military operations since the conflict broke out in March 2011 have included the full range of Soviet/Russian-made T55s, T62s, T72s and the most impressive of all the T90s, one of the world’s top-quality tanks. All versions have been upgraded and modernized by Syrian scientists. A remarkable addition to the tank force has been the impressive Syrian-made Sarab (meaning Mirage) system for evading and blinding anti-tank missiles of all types used by anti-government forces, including the US-made TOW missile, with remarkable results.
Artillery and mortars of all types and calibers, including heavy machineguns and field self-propelled artillery such as the Gvozdika, Shilka, BM14s, BM17s, BM24s, BM27s, multi-rocket launchers (Stalin Organs), and most deadly of all, the new BM-30 MLRS heavy multi rocket Smerch launcher, have been used to destroy enemy fortifications, munition dumps, camps and command centres. A wide range of Soviet/Russian-made BMPs and BTRs, BVDs, BRDMs have been used in military operations.
During the last few years, the Syrian army has introduced to the battle field, a number of locally-manufactured weaponry, including the heavy short-range Feel (Elephant) 500 lbs’ rocket, and the world’s most powerful multi-rocket launcher Jolan (Golan) 1000, a 3-barrel tank-mounted pad with an explosive charge of 1000 kilos each. This has been scarcely used to destroy underground bunkers and command centres.
As the Syria conflict enters its 9th year, all parties involved must have had enough of the destruction and bloodshed that have marred the lives of Syrians, regardless of their political affiliation or religious faith. It is high time to silence the guns and start a peaceful way out of this vicious circle of endless suffering for all.