Saturday, 7 September 2013

Buks stationed at Mezze (1)

In this video uploaded on the 3rd of September we see a Buk-M2E (also known under its NATO name: SA-17 Grizzly) SAM launcher inside Mezze airbase.

Buildings and other objects visible in the video make it possible to precisely geolocate the place:

An overview of Mezze airbase, with the area shown in the video outlined in red.

0:18 in the video. 1: decommissioned MiG-17. 2: decommissioned MiG-15UTI. 3: decommissioned T-6 Texan.
4: Hardened Aircraft Shelter with blastdoors.

'' 5: decommissioned L-29. 6: Aircraft shelter, housing one SA-342 and a 9A316 Buk SAM launcher

Notice another Buk launcher hidden in a shelter:

An earlier video filmed in Damascus on the 12th of May this year shows a Buk launcher being hauled to :

Buk underway to Mezze on the 12th of May 2013

As long as the S-300PMU-2 systems have not been completely delivered and become operational, the Buk-M2E is the most modern and most capable air defense system in Syrian inventory. With their range of 45 km against high-flying aircraft and 20 km against low-flying, small-RCS cruise missiles, the Buks deployed at Mezze can theoretically cover the whole Damascus with its suburbs:

The bigger ring stands for 45 km range and the smaller one for 20 km.

In fact, the Presidential Palace - perhaps the single most important object in Syria from the regime's point of view - is just about 3 kilometers away from Mezze.

It should be noted that each Buk launcher has its own radar and in case of necessity can operate completely on its own, increasing durability of the system under anti-radiation missile (ARM) attacks. However, normally the Buks operate under centralised command and control in battalions of one 9S510E command vehicle, one 9S18M1 air search radar, six 9A317E launchers (those are the vehicles seen in both videos) and several 9A316E launcher-loaders.

Given the importance of Damascus area for the Assad's regime, it is highly likely that at least a full Buk battalion is deployed at Mezze. The vehicles are probably hidden in other shelters all over the base (Mezze has a total of 20 Hardened Aircraft Shelters plus 3 open-ended shelters like the one containing a Buk launcher in the video).

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