Wednesday, 27 August 2014

North Korean MANPADS showing up in the hands of fighters of the Islamic State‏?

A photo published by the Islamic State after the capture of Tabqa airbase apparently revealed the capture of an Igla-1E man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) at this base. However, it has now been uncovered the missile isn't an Igla-1E and the photo was not taken at Tabqa but at Kshesh, an airbase captured from Jaish al-Islam that is now being used as a training base by the Islamic State. The row of decommissioned MiG-17s in the background and the presence of two L-39s gave the identity of the base away.

While the missile was initially identified as an Igla-1E, the MANPADS seen operated by the fighter didn't quite match the system's visual appearance. The presence of an aerodynamic spike (as seen on the 9M39 Igla) indicated it isn't just a regular Soviet-produced Igla-1E, which all have pyramidal nosecones. Other external features ruled out other Russian systems and foreign copies thereof. Few other countries produce Igla-1Es, however, North Korea acquired a license to produce them along with 9K111 anti-tank missile systems and subsequently modified and produced different variants of Igla-1Es for its own needs. While the modified 9K111s received the designation of Bulsae-2, it is currently not known what name the Igla-1E received. However, MANPADS in North Korean service often receive the nickname "Hwaseong Chong" (Arquebus).

While Syria is known to have acquired North Korean arms, MANPADS were never noted to have been delivered to the Syrian regime. While both the DPRK and Syria were never too keen on publishing information about arms transfers, the possible North Korean design wasn't yet recognized in Syria during the now three-and-a-half-year-long conflict either, which saw numerous other MANPADS fall in the hands of opposition fighters.

The missile also wasn't sighted in various photo and video reports coming out of the captured bases of Division 17, Regiment 121 and Brigade 93, which showed scores of other equipment being captured, including Iranian made I-RAAD anti-tank missiles.

North Korea is well known to have been delivering arms to what have been branded terrorist organizations by the U.S. A recent example of such transfers was confirmed by the sighting of Bulsae-2s used by Hamas.

While it is unknown wether the North Korean version differs qualitywise from its parent design, a couple of external differences can be noted. Firstly, the missile itself appears to use the aerodynamic spike seen on later generation Russian MANPADS instead of the characteristic pyramidal extension. Furthermore, on some models the battery and handles have been modified, and the protective cap is more reminiscent of more modern MANPADS.

It is unlikely that the Islamic State owns a substantial stock of Igla-1Es, as it is not even ruled out the missile pictured is the only one in their possession. It is therefore improbable the Igla-1E sighted will have any impact on the day-to-day operations of the air forces of the United States, Syria and Iraq over the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields.

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The spoils of Regiment 121, captured by the Islamic State
The spoils of Brigade 93, captured by the Islamic State


  1. That first picture looks like some kind of Russian device. Wonder how many duds come in a North Korea shipment.

  2. A real problem for Islamic State is no defence from the air. This shows how the supposed 'illegal' arms trade is really under the control of Zion which is why no dealer will sell manpads to the Caliphate, but hopefully DPRK might. Whoever dreamed up the word manpads is an idiot, it sounds like the name of some sort of male tampons!

  3. DPRK wont sell to IS. They support the Assad govt with arms and rumored pilots also. they also were the ones helping build the nuclear reactor for Syria. The Taleban have been trying mostly unsuccessfully to get manpads for decades.

  4. One fact possibly never before mentioned is that IS is the most educated resistance in world history with most of it's fighters having been to college and university and mostly skilled in computers and media having grown up using novo-tech, they even have programmers and hackers. This group may well be able to replicate a manpad themselves if they obtain one and the time may well arrive that they are being manafactured in garages in the streets of Tikrit or Mosul.

    1. most educated resistance in the world??? why havent they already used manpads??? they are being used my other groups in syria. the only thing the SAA has on them is airpower and we have yet to see any air defence from IS. Look at their videos, their trucks are a mess. with all the damaged equipment they've captured recently they still drive small pickups with a handful of men in them.

    2. A small few were captured in Syria. They have no actual supplier because Zion controls the 'illegal' arms trade and they aint gonna fund their enemy. Pick-ups are useful in the ME and North African terrain, they do use heavy weapons and tanks as well and they have mechanics fixing their equipment though obviously not as many as a fully funded army. And as to the thousands of manpads the transnational Jewsmedia claimed were stolen in Tripoli after the banksters had brought down Gadaffi "and sold on the black market" they were no doubt airlifted out by the US.

    3. I never understand why the Muslim world gives "Zion" so much credit. They dont control the illegal arms trade in Manpads. There are plenty of sources of manpads around the world. most sane people wont sell them to fringe groups. mechanics to fix pickups and old soviet tanks are easy to come by but try finding ones that can actually keep complicated electronic in jets and radars coming isnt. If they manage to get them working the clock will start ticking for an airstrike from any number of countries including Middle Eastern ones.