A new weapon in the Syrian arsenal was spotted in the assault on the village of Maaloula, the S-8 unguided rocket. The rocket was already reported to be used by the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) in a raid on the Lebanese village Arsal, but this is the first time we're seeing the rocket actually being fired by a SyAAF attack helicopter.
Different versions of the S-8 exist and they can be fired from different rocket pods, which can be installed on both helicopters and airplanes. As seen in the photo, the rocket pod used in the assault on Maaloula is the B-8V20A.
|Close-up photo of two B-8V20A rocket pods, identical as the ones being used by the SyAAF.|
The B-8V20A pods were never seen equipped on Syrian Mi-17s and Mi-25s. This is strange since the Syrian military clearly put all her best toys on the table in the exercices held in 2012. In these exercices, the Mi-25s flew with UB-32 rocket pods, not with B-8 pods. The first use of S-8s was reported in June 2012, this while SyAAF Mi-17s and Mi-25s already flew many attack sorties since the beginning on the conflict in 2011, always deploying S-5 rockets from either UB-16 or UB-32 pods. No S-8s were captured at Taftanaz either, while around two dozen UB-16 pods and thousands of S-5 rockets were found on this base.
|UB-32 and UB-16 rocket pods.|
S-5 rockets saw widespread use in Afghanistan, due the light warhead and bad accuracy of the rocket, the S-8 soon replaced the S-5 in operational service. Because the SyAAF never used the Mi-25 in any conflict before, it lacks the experience with the underperformance of S-5 rockets other countries have. It is likely that the SyAAF finally found out that the S-5 rockets aren't up to the job and asked for the delivery of S-8 rockets from Russia, which probably delivered them via Tartus some time ago. Russia could also have delivered the standard B-8 pod, designed to be used on planes like the Su-24 and the MiG-29. Both the Su-24 and the MiG-29 are in Syrian inventory.
|SyAAF Mi-25 firing S-8 rockets on the village of Maaloula. Photo taken by Maria Finoshina.|
|S-8 rockets. Photo taken by PFC_Joker.|
|The standard B-8 pod, designed to be fitted on planes.|
The S-8 rocket part 2: MiG-29 with S-8s over Damascus