Improvised Munitions In Syria – Sublime and Ridiculous

By Roger Davies / 19 October 2012 / In the News, Weapons Intelligence

I’m doing some work looking at global use of improvised weapon systems – beyond IEDs.   I’m seeing these all over the place, but of course at the moment mostly in Syria. I’m intrigued that all sides of the conflict are using improvised weapon systems, both Free Syrian Army, its fellow travellers and indeed Goverment Forces. Pending completion of this detailed global analysis I thought I post some initial comments and links of systems encountered in Syria.

CJ Chivers at the NYT has written a few articles, here  and  here

Included in these are an improvised artillery systems (called “Dadool”) firing 62mm “pipe bombs” . These seem quite a bit more complex than the improvised systems built in Libya last year.  This artillery system is breech loading, with a re-usable propellant container filled with shotgun propellant.  So range will be very inconsistent.  Chivers suggests that the various explosives have been tried, but quotes the ones in the images as a urea based, which, to be honest, I’m not sure makes sense.  The crude attempts at spin stabilization are unlikely to be effective.  I’d expect a very high failure rate from the crude contact fuzes as I think it’s inevitable that these will tumble in flight. There are implications then for post-conflict clear up and EOD.    Chivers’s analysis is generally pretty good – especially is analysis of the 14.5mm Dshk with motorcycle handlebars and a mount for a video camera.  He also notes that the mount for the machine gun on the “technical” appears to be an adaptation of a satellite dish mounting system.  There’s a video of a  Dadool firing here     The manufacturer claims a range of 2km. So this is essentially firing a flying pipe bomb, which must have 50% + chance of being a “blind”.

The second Chivers article looks at improvised mortars and rockets. Again, improvised mortar systems are not new and have been seen in many other places around the globe. The fins seem to be home made aluminium cast and I doubt that the ballistics will ensure a point impact – again very likely these will tumble in flight, I think, leaving a significant clear-up problem post conflict.

As for the rockets – well you have to be impressed with this video! 

Chivers also posts here on the use of “IRAM”s. (Improvised Rockets Assisted Munitions. IRAMs are allegedly being used by the Syrian government forces.   IRAMs started to be used in Iraq about 5 or 6 years ago. Essentially a 107mm rocket with a large explosive container bolted on to the front end.  The article claims IRAMs were first seen in Northern Ireland which isn’t exactly true, but never mind. Also we never called IRA mortars “lob bombs”.

There’s a blind IRAM here.     I’m amused by the pseudo formal military markings on the side of the warhead, written in a black marker pen.

Here’s an Al Jazeera report from a manufacturing facility.

Other interesting videos and images abound:

Much much more to follow with some detailed analysis.

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