Monday, 13 July 2015
Libya Dawn going DIY: S-125 SAMs used as surface-to-surface missiles and mounted on T-62 tanks
By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
The ever demanding combat environment of the Libyan battlefield has forced parties on all sides to resort to using their creativity to find new use for once abandoned and neglected systems, and in so doing spawned a host of interesting contraptions already, such as those that resulted from the Libyan National Army and Libya Dawn mounting AK-230 and Oerlikon GDF naval cannons on trucks. As the conflict still appears to be far from reaching a conclusion, such DIY continue to see the light of day, as is witnessed by the inception of another improvised mobile surface-to-surface missile system by Libya Dawn.
Libya Dawn, which has put effort into adapting S-125 SAMs to do the same from towed launchers in April this year, now appears to have continued this path of development, despite little positive results on the capabilities of these systems. The new mobile system, using a T-62 Model 1972 as Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) as a basis and a single modified S-125 mounted on top of the cupola as its main ordnance.
In control of Libya's capital Tripoli as well as Misrata, Libya Dawn is the largest operator of T-62s in Libya, having used the tanks in various battles, including those near Tripoli. The mainstay of Libya's T-62 fleet was operated by the Hamza battalion in Misrata before the revolution, during which the base it was operating from was struck by the NATO-led coalition. It now provides Libya Dawn with tens of T-62s in operational condition and a host of others in various states of decay that can be cannibalised for spare parts.
As could be observed from photos of Libya Dawn's previous projects to convert S-125 SAMs to the surface-to-surface role, the frontal fins have been removed in an attempt to increase the stability of the missile during its unguided flight. Similarly, the nosecone was lenthened, possibly to increase the payload (which ordinarily is just 60 kilograms) or to swap the standard high explosive fragmentational warhead designed to wreck aircraft for a more conventional high explosive one. While not easily discernible in the new imagery, it is likely the standard proximity fuse has once again been replaced with one designed for surface-to-surface use.
Libya Dawn is not the first to meddle with converting surface-to-air missiles for other roles; Ba'athist Iraq experimented with the same concept near the end of the Iran-Iraq War, with unsatisfactory results. More on this project can be read here.
The conversion of S-125s to the surface-to-surface role will, despite being placed on a mobile launcher, remain of limited value, and rather serves a psychological purpose than a tactical one.
Libya Dawn going DIY: S-125 SAMs used as surface-to-surface missiles
Libya Dawn going DIY: Oerlikon GDF naval guns mounted on trucks
Kh-29 air-to-surface missiles used as unguided rockets in Libya
The Libyan National Army going DIY: AK-230 naval guns mounted on trucks