SA-14 used in Attack on DHL Plane
A videotape of guerrillas’ attack on the DHL plane at Baghdad airport was given to a French reporter for Le Nouvel Observateur. It was seen by AFP, which reports that it clearly shows the use of an SA-14 Gremlin missile launcher, not an old SA-7 as the US military reported. (The US military was either misinformed or was deliberately attempting to forestall a panic, since it is very bad news for aviators that the guerrillas have anything more than SA-7s). Planes small enough to do so had been having to perform tight spiral landings as it was.
AFP reports, “The shoulder-launched missile is seen shooting up into the sky after being fired by one of the cell and then homing in on the Airbus-300 freighter. The vapor trail makes a sharp U-turn as the missile homes in on the infrared or radio signals from the scheduled Baghdad to Dubai courier flight. , , After a break, the video resumes with footage of the stricken airliner diving back down to Baghdad airport, in clearly amateur footage shot through electricity lines.”
SA-14s belong to a family of Russian-designed shoulder-launched missiles called Strela (“Arrow”). SA-7s, or the first Strela, were manufactured in several countries, including Pakistan. The SA-14, called Strela 3, weighs 35 pounds and has a range of 2,000 yards when used against an approaching jet. (Thanks to Tom Collier).
When I first heard this story very early Saturday morning EST, I speculated that something beyond an SA-7 must have been used, and was criticized for doing so by one blogger who is an expert in military technology. I don’t claim any expertise in that field, but I do claim several conversations with people who know about it and they have been worried for a while about SA-14 and SA-16 attacks.