Monday, 2 September 2013

Mercedes-Benz and Syria, a deadly combination

Used for both civilian and military purposes, Mercedes trucks are everything but rare in Syria. The Syrian Arab Army using Mercedes 911s as general purpose transports and L series and NG series serve as tank transporters. Some serve as a basis for something way more deadlier though; As a basis for field howitzers, unguided rockets and surface to surface missiles.

Installing artillery, rockets or missiles on a truck is a good way to make your arsenal mobile without having to buy expensive self propelled howitzers or Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. Countries like Cuba, North Korea and Iran did this trick before. It is also a very good way to conceal your equipment, as seen below you can change a rocket launcher to a civilian truck within minutes.

Mercedes trucks are the ideal type for these conversions, most Iranian and every Syrian conversion is based on these trucks. The Mercedes trucks in Syria were of course imported as civilian trucks and to be used for 'civilian tasks', but after their arrival moved to Syrian Arab Army workshops to be converted for their new, less friendly, roles. If they were directly bought from the factory or second-hand remains unknown.

There are a total of five conversions used by Syria. Two of which with unguided rockets and another three with heavy artillery rockets and missiles.

All except the Falaq-2 version can be seen in the two videos below(Note: the first system seen in the second video and the one at 2:00 are Iranian examples, not Syrian):


220mm rockets on a modified Mercedes chassis

This system was first sighted during the rocket and missile exercise in 2011. It's a truck mounted 220mm multiple rocket launcher. The 220mm rockets are being made in Syria. This system, together with the Khaibar, represents the heavy artillery department of the Syrian Arab Army. They have not yet been seen in the Syrian conflict. This doesn't mean they haven't been used though.


302mm Khaibar rockets on a modified 3340 or 3348 Mercedes chassis

This system was first sighted during the rocket and missile exercise in 2011. It's a truck mounted 302mm multiple rocket launcher. The 302mm rockets are being made in Syria. In comparision, the famous BM-21 only firing 122mm rockets. They have not yet been seen in the Syrian conflict. This doesn't mean they haven't been used though.


Double tubed Falaq-2 on a modified Mercedes chassis

The Falaq-2 is everything but rare now, it even being linked with the CW assault in August. The Falaq-2 is an Iranian designed 333mm unguided artillery rocket. The Syrian Arab Army uses both the single tube version and the double tube version. The latter being seen in the photo above. The single tubed version below.

Single tubed Falaq-2
Falaq-2 being launched
Shortly after the launch, the truck gets converted to a more civilian look,
showing how easy it is to conceal military equipment


Fateh-110/M-600 on a modified Mercedes 2031 chassis

This system was first sighted during the rocket and missile exercise in 2011. The installed missile is the Syrian version of the Iranian designed Fateh-110. In Syria its known as M-600 or Tishreen. They form the more accurate part of the Syrian missile fleet. The chassis remains identical to the Iranian one. The missile was seen in action at least one time. The launch can be found here


A Zelzal-2 on a modified Mercedes 4140 chassis

The Zelzal-2 was first sighted during the rocket and missile exercise in 2011. The Zelzal-2 is an Iranian designed, unguided 610mm heavy artillery rocket also believed to be produced in Syria. Although not yet been seen in the Syrian Civil War, their usage in the conflict is not ruled out.


  1. Replies
    1. Muchas gracias! The same counts for your blog!

  2. Is there anything special about MB trucks that makes them better suited for these purposes compared to trucks from MAN, Scania or Volvo? Is there anything special about the way MB trucks got into the hand of the Syrian regime? MB is the biggest truck maker in the world so it is no surprise to me that they are used in that way. If MB had indeed special relations to the regime it would be different.

    1. The Mercedes trucks are flatbeds and indeed easy to acquire. That's why they are preferred by Iran and Syria.

  3. "Countries like Cuba, North Korea and Iran did this trick before."

    Actually this is nothing new. Germany did the same as far back as 1917. There are many more instances of many other countries doing the same since.

    I can't say for Syria but I do know that Iran license builds the M-B L-series since as far back as the Shah days. They may even possess mfg stampings and tooling, providing them with builds beyond that of just assembling from parts.

    Iran has also license built the M-B LP series, Volvo trucks and more.

    With a well developed infrastructure and in this kind of civil war battlefield, where the struggle is mainly over population centers and bases, not only is the purchase cost of truck-mounted heavy weapons cheaper but so are the logistics in maintaining them in the conflict, which is of prime concern for a war ravaged economy.

    1. Hello Mark,

      We're talking about putting rockets and missiles on commercial trucks, mounting a little AA gun on a truck is something different.

      For everything else, spot on! Thanks!

  4. Using these trucks which are more civilians, would make every single truck in the country subject to be targeted...realy it's kinda impossible to recognize which is modified for military purposes when they are all covered from back !

    1. That's why such vehicles are very popular!

      Have you already seen this?

      Apart from the Buk you can also see a T-6 Texan!

    2. Damn !!!!! I watched the video many times trying to distinguish the 3rd airframe but you found it at last !!! a real TEXAN !!! many thx Oryx!

      There is another aircraft inside the HAS...

    3. Haha, glad to be of help!

      There is one Mi-8/17 and one Buk inside the HAS.

  5. It's important for israel in the next round with Hezbollah to know that they have to destroy all the Mercedes truck in lebanon

    1. Destroying every Mercedes truck would cause a lot of casualties I'm afraid!

      Hezbollah's Khaibar 1's are not based on trucks but on trailers:

      Thanks for the link, will take a closer look at it!