Theodore's World: Taliban In First Heat-seeking Missile Attack

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July 28, 2007

Taliban In First Heat-seeking Missile Attack

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Taliban in first heat-seeking missile attack

Taliban militants have used a heat-seeking surface-to-air missile to attack a Western aircraft over Afghanistan for the first time.

The attack with a weapon believed to have been smuggled across the border with Iran represents a worrying increase in the capability of the militants which Western commanders had long feared.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the Taliban attempted to bring down an American C-130 Hercules aircraft flying over the south-western province of Nimroz on July 22. The crew reported that a missile system locked on to their aircraft and that a missile was fired.

It closed in on the large C-130 aircraft, pursuing it as the pilots launched a series of violent evasive manoeuvres and jettisoned flares to confuse the heat sensors in the nose of the missile. Crew members said that they saw what they believe was a missile passing very close to the aircraft. The C-130 was not damaged in the attack.

"If there was such an incident of the type you describe in Nimroz it is classified," said a Nato spokesman. "I can't release it, if in fact it did occur."

However, a surface-to-air missile alert was put out for Western aircraft travelling in the south-west of Afghanistan in the last week, which affected both civilian and military aircraft.

It was confirmed by civilian air operators in Helmand province. It remains in place. Western military commanders have been aware of concerted efforts by the Taliban to obtain shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, so-called Manpads (man portable air defence system).

The recent attack was probably with an SA7 shoulder-launched missile, an elderly model of Soviet or Chinese origin. Though relatively primitive they are still a potent weapon, particularly against low-flying helicopters, such as the workhorse Chinook transporters used by British forces in the southern Helmand province.

The C-130 attacked in Nimroz was flying at 11,000ft at the time of the attack, which is within the 2.5-5 km range of a shoulder-launched missile system such as the SA7.

Though the West supplied hundreds of sophisticated Stinger heat-seeking missiles to the Afghan Mujaheddin in the 1980s, they are not thought to be still usable because of the deterioration of their sophisticated electronics and battery systems.

As a contingency in 2002, the United States government offered an amnesty on Stingers and successfully bought back many of the missiles still in the arsenals of Afghan warlords for $40,000 a missile.

To date, the Taliban has shot down a number of Western helicopters, but only through the use of unguided rocket-propelled grenades, which have a range of only 500 yards.

In April members of the Special Boat Service operating in Nimroz province intercepted several truck loads of weapons coming across the Iranian border, including a working SA7 missile. It was one of a number of recent weapon caches that Western officials claim have been seized on the border with Iran, fuelling allegations by Britain and America that Iran, or elements within the Iranian government, have begun supplying arms to the Taliban.

Hundreds of SA7 missiles disappeared into the black market in Iraq in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein, where they have since been used to shoot down dozens of helicopters and aircraft, reportedly including a British C-130 in 2005.

Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman said that the group would allow more time for an envoy from Seoul to travel to join talks for the release of 22 South Korean hostages. But the spokesman repeated the threat that militants would kill the 22 Christian missionaries.

Wild Thing's comment........

Screw ROE! Most of these damn ‘rules’ are thought up by military lawyers officers in the Judge Advocate Generals’ corps.

Let’s win these damn wars , using the sharp end of the stick without any hands tied behind the back

Posted by Wild Thing at July 28, 2007 02:45 AM


You know what's really sad here?
Our CIA trained the Taliban, so they could get rid of a dictator they didn't like.
Now they're after us.
Nothing like a bad child biting the hand that fed it.
Somehow, somewhere, someone has made them believe that the US is so very bad and that they were so very good. Bunch of hogwash.

Posted by: Lynn at July 28, 2007 07:40 AM

Do we even use the Stingers anymore ? From what I heard Stingers were always 'dead-nuts' on.

11,000 feet is over two miles and there is 1.6km/mile which sounds like the outer limit of that SA-7. If it aint made here who really knows what accuracy it has and how good the optics are.

In 1966 I was sent to the first 'Red-Eye' school at 29 palms; for training in the new surface to air missile, 6- weeks of this plus air-craft identification. Those things were dead on. after the training, we had a demonstration for some Brass, and we shot down all 6 drones the Navy sent up. During the training they would send out an F-4 which has a huge heat signature, especially with the afterburners and he would come in at about 400 knots so we could practice locking on.( I got to practice with it but since ... I was a Radio-operator ... I couldn't fire the damn thing... those things were really top notch) But after all that training and preparation, someone decided the 'Red-Eye' project was not needed in Vietnam, so we all got sent to rifle companies.

The successor was the 'Stinger' and was even better, I just can't believe anyone else in the world could come up with anything as good as what we have. But I am prejudice that way.

Posted by: Mark at July 28, 2007 11:11 AM

That C-130 crew was lucky, and good. I wish we would start taking out Irans military assets. When the Iranians kidnapped those British sailors we could have sunk one of Irans submarines. We could publically claim this SA-7 was from Iran and take out an Iranian military aircraft. We need to be smuggling tons of weapons to resistance groups in Iran. Put Iran on the defensive and keep them busy.

Iran is vulnerable. It has a lot of internal unrest and a collapsing economy. We should be exploiting that to the max.

Posted by: TomR at July 28, 2007 12:32 PM

Several A4 Skyhawks were armed with the 'Red Eye' at Chu Lai, I found out the hard way when one jet jockey launched one from the wing pod into the 55 gal. oil drums filled with sand as blast revetments during refueling and rearming, since it only travelled a few feet before penetrating the drums, it didn't have time to "arm" which is why I can relate to it. This was a piece or ordinance that should have veen jettisoned prior to landing but was either over looked or was a hangfire. That young Marine pilot caught hell from both his Marine ground crew and we dogfaces who were helping. I think the Marines often used whatever ordinance they could get their hands on , because they were always sucking hind teat in the supply chain and always were improvising. Both the 'Red Eye' and the Stinger are awesome missiles and I certainly wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of either one. It's beyond me as to why we supply known agents working against us with superior weapons, weapons that always find their way back to be used against us. There is something French about the concept. There is only one way to wage war that is, to win!!! It's ugly, total and necessary, the time to talk about it is after winning, then only to assess the successes and failures during the battles. You can't win minds and souls with people who have neither.

Posted by: Jack at July 28, 2007 03:39 PM


We had a saying, 'If the Army anint shit-canned it, the Marine Corps aint got it.'

Posted by: Mark at July 28, 2007 04:45 PM

Mark, I know, that saying, it's true, there was a time I could have traded a bottle of whiskey for the entire 3rd Marine Division in I Corps. From "The Hill Of The Angels", 'The Rock pile", 'The Razorback' and Khe Sanh those poor guys had less than the essentials to live on, they never complained and being the gracious Devil Dogs they were, they always shared their meager supplies. All my love and respect to them. Thanks Mark. Semper Fi!!!

Posted by: Jack at July 28, 2007 05:05 PM

Lynn that really bugs me, your right. Here we trained ole Osama and his not so merry death seeking men and they want to kill US.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 29, 2007 12:55 AM

Mark I am VERY prejudice that way too, haha and it is very hard for me to imagaine it any other way. My Dad, all my Uncles, cousins, Veterans friends, and Nick sharing with me confirms it.

Thanks for sharing Mark.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 29, 2007 01:03 AM

Tom......"Iran is vulnerable. It has a lot of internal unrest and a collapsing economy. We should be exploiting that to the max.".....
I agree and I think from what I have read that Cheney feels like that too, I keep reading he wants Bush to do something now.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 29, 2007 01:05 AM

Jack, amen to all you said.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 29, 2007 01:06 AM

Why we don't stomp Iran's proxy's into the desert dust of Iraq and Afghanistan is beyond me.

"people get away with exactly as much as you let them"

Posted by: Bob O at July 29, 2007 06:08 PM