Saturday, 11 July 2015

The Syrian Arab Army going DIY, 57mm AZP S-60 anti-aircraft guns mounted on 2K12 SAM launchers

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The ongoing Civil War in Syria has led to plenty of DIY projects in a bid to enhance the firepower of the involved factions. The infamous rebel Hell Cannon, the regime's IRAMs and barrel bombs are perfect examples of DIY projects that have become 'succesful' enough to be produced in significant numbers. The latter two of these projects, along with the armour modifications applied to a part of the Republican Guard's armour fleet, are in fact so popular that they might be classified more fittingly as factory standardised upgrades rather than DIY modifications.

DIY projects often depend on the ingenuity and motivation of the local commander, the crew and available resources. These conditions differ greatly throughout Syria, considering some factions and regions have sufficient weaponry and ammunition while others are forced to go DIY to ensure they have enough firepower available to gain the edge over their opponents, or even to just prevent their downfall.

The installment of 57mm AZP S-60 anti-aircraft guns on trucks is a DIY modification that has become extremely popular in Syria, being relatively easy to perform yet providing troops with a fast-firing support gun for long distances. The only drawback of this conversion is the limited firing arc of the gun, which due to obstruction by the truck cabin is blocked in the front. The truck of choice for such conversions is often a garbage truck, as these provide the operators some degree of cover against small arms fire.

Installing the same gun on the GM-578 chassis of the 2K12 Kub mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system solves this problem, and allows the gunner to swing the gun fully around. A limited number of such conversions have recently been produced for the Syrian Arab Army (SyAA), and more vehicles might be converted in the near future.

At least one of the converted 2K12s is currently participating in the offensive for the strategically located Qalamoun region, which is jointly conducted by Hizbullah and the Syrian regime. The Syrian Arab Army and Republican Guard provide the bulk of the fire-support to infantry forces mainly composed of Hizbullah fighters.

The vulnerability of lone SAM sites scattered throughout Syria led to the decision to redeploy the most vulnerable of them to safer and stronger regime-held positions, where most SAM batteries were reactivated. For some, the reactivation was short lived however, as a lack of spares and the need to deploy the personnel for other roles meant the batteries are either minimally staffed or abandoned all together. A number of 2K12 batteries underwent the same fate, such as the launchers below, reading: الجيش - ١٠٦٠٥٥٨ ''The Army - 1060558''. The converted 2K12s were among the abandoned examples, and converting them into fire-support platforms rather than letting them collect dust makes sense.

Although this cost-effective conversion is mobile and therefore capable of advancing alongside regime fighters, the limited amount of ammunition that can be carried in the steel construction which protects the crew against small-arms fire will likely limit its role to just a fire-support platform. However, another DIY project initiated by Libya Dawn in Libya shows the 2K12 SAM system can be converted for use in other roles as well. With some relatively simple modifications, the 600kg 3M9 can be repurposed to surface-to-surface role, albeit to highly unreliable effect. Wether such a modification might soon also see use on the Syrian battlefield remains to be seen.

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  1. In Iraq, they are mounting ZPUs and AZPs onto M113, seems pretty effective.

    1. The Lebanese Army has done that as well

  2. The Iraqis have also mounted a ZU-23-2 with an improvised armored enclosure plus slat armor on a GM-578:

  3. This is a battle of guns in syria and it is very tough to get rid rid of it.