Thursday, 3 March 2016
The Islamic State going DIY, 122mm D-30 howitzers used as anti-aircraft guns
By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
Imagery recently released by the Islamic State's media office of Wilayat Ninawa in Iraq (Nineveh governorate) shows truck-mounted 122mm D-30 howitzers of the al-Farouq Platoon (of the Wilayat Ninawa Air Defence Battalion) firing at U.S. (E)P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft used for SIGINT missions over Mosul. The use of this weaponry, ordinarily used as conventional artillery against ground targets only, is highly notable, and highlights the Islamic State's severe lack of means to counter the Coalition's overwhelming air assets.
The images, captured in and around Mosul, the largest city under the Islamic State's control, depict U.S.-made Navistar International 7000 Series and M-35 trucks which have been modified to carry the Soviet-legacy 122mm D-30 howitzer. The M-35-based example appears to be housed in a hardened bunker, only being moved outside when a potential target appears. Furthermore, the truck has been outfitted with stabilisers and a mount to lower the howitzer into travel position. Other images show more conventional assets of the al-Farouq Battalion, including a 14.5mm ZPU-2, 23mm ZU-23-2, 37mm Type-65 and 57mm AZP S-60, all of which mounted on a variety of trucks.
Still, the Islamic State is arguably the most inventive faction currently battling in Syria and Iraq, especially considering the fact that most of their weaponry is quickly targeted by Air Forces operating over the conflicted battlespace. Although certainly a desperate attempt to shoot down slow-flying enemy aircraft, it once again demonstrates the willingness of the Islamic State to dedicate resources to continue the fight, no matter the costs. Future posts will shed more light on DIY projects conducted by the Islamic State to improve its fighting capabilities, which have so far been severely underreported.
The Islamic State going DIY, from armoured recovery vehicle to battle bus
The Islamic State going DIY, from earthmover to earthbreaker