Military Review

Black Banner Volley

Artillery in the Syrian conflict plays an almost decisive role.

In recent weeks, news reports on the results of air strikes by the Russian group of Aerospace Forces in Syria, as well as video, where militant positions, warehouses and command and control posts are destroyed by bombing, have become quite commonplace. However, in addition to the Russian attack aircraft, front-line bombers and attack helicopters, quite specific products were also taken on photo and video footage of recent battles - towed MSTA-B howitzers, TOS-1A “Solntsepe” heavy flamethrower systems.

And at the beginning of 2014, Syrian government troops on the most difficult sectors of the front were attacked by Smerch multiple rocket launchers. As Russian officials officially say, all this equipment has been supplied as part of military-technical cooperation between the two countries.

Lost Arsenal

Before the civil war, Syria's armed forces have quite a lot of both the receiver and rocket artillery, including 122-mm howitzer D-30, 130-mm cannon M-46, self-propelled gun mounts and 2S1 2S3, multiple rocket launchers BM- 21, BM-27 "Hurricane" (according to SIPRI, although unconfirmed) and even such exotic products as long-range 180-mm C-23 guns.

Syrian artillery officers were trained in military schools of the Russian Federation, and a limited contingent of Russian military advisers was also in the Arab Republic. According to the representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, who was familiar with the pre-war situation, the level of training of Syrians on some issues was quite high: “They shot well and did all the exercises approximately to the level of the battery, the division commander had good individual training, but managing the division’s fire was already problematic for him ".

A good part of the artillery systems, especially the barrel towed, was in a deplorable state. Only part of the SAU and the MLRS remained more or less intact, although the stock of missiles for them was quite limited. The big problem was the staffing of batteries and divisions by personnel. Most of the units were, using Russian terminology, cropped or reduced, there was a shortage of serviceable means of communication, not only complex command and staff vehicles and command and control vehicles, but also portable radio stations.

Initially, the Syrian armed forces were practically not involved in the direct suppression of the protests that began in the summer of 2011. But when the protesters took in hand weapon and began full-scale hostilities, the military still thrown into battle. True, the artillery was used quite sporadically, mainly mortar batteries, platoons, as well as individual mortars, and the rest of the personnel as regular infantrymen served at checkpoints.

In the spring of 2012, the troops loyal to Bashar Assad were able to neutralize the most powerful center of resistance in the area of ​​the city of Homs. This was followed by an agreement on a temporary ceasefire, concluded with the mediation of the UN, which allowed opposition groups to significantly replenish their ranks and rearm. And in the summer, in a matter of weeks, they practically crushed the government army.

Black Banner VolleyThe vast part of the country, in particular in the north and in the center, came under the control of the opposition, the city of Aleppo was blocked. Some military camps and bases were captured or encircled (as the recently released Kuveiris airbase). Separate units and divisions of the security forces, as well as separately standing roadblocks were surrounded and destroyed.

The government, which tried to stop the offensive at all costs, allowed the use of not only artillery, but also operational tactical missiles and aviation. But after the losses incurred in personnel and equipment, Syrian artillery, until recently, had very little effect on the course of hostilities.

In particular, barreled artillery fire at enemy targets was mainly conducted by direct or semi-direct fire, which did not require special skills in fire control. Self-propelled artillery systems 2C1 and 2C3 were used as assault Tanks to support the infantry attack on enemy fortifications, as well as in urban combat, destroying the enemy again with direct fire.

To compensate for the losses incurred, the Syrian government forces set up an artisanal 130-mm M-46 and 122-mm howitzer D-30 cannon for trucks, in particular for four-axle Mercedes-4140. In addition, government forces are quite actively using multiple rocket launchers, capable of delivering massive strikes in a short time, but without requiring a high level of personnel training.

To compensate for the losses incurred, Iran actively began to supply government troops with not only launchers of various calibers, but also individual missiles, launched in turn from hand-made PU. A sufficiently wide delivery range includes both portable single-barrel PU caliber from 107 to 130 millimeters, and multi-barreled 220 – 240-millimeter mounted on pickups and trucks. There are reactive systems and much larger caliber, in particular 330-millimeter and even 440 – 450-millimeter PU. At present, the rockets themselves are no longer shipped from Iran, but rather are produced locally, in conventional workshops using both standard spare parts and improvised means.

Wind from the north

In early February, 2014, in various social networks, and later in the media, there were reports of the appearance of the Smerch 300-millimeter rocket launcher systems in Syrian government troops. In particular, remnants of 9М55К rockets with fragmentation submunitions in the area of ​​the city of Kafr-Zita in the province of Hama hit the video chronicle.

The newly arrived MLRSs were actively used against militants in the area of ​​the cities of Namar, Daraa and Jobar (near Damascus), as well as in the territory of the already mentioned Hama province. Accurate data on the losses inflicted by the Tornadoes on the enemy, but indirect evidence that the strikes of the 300-millimetric missiles reached the goal, can be the fact that after the February Opposition troops were able to push back the government forces in the Der'a area and take several important objects, as a result of the attacks of the RZSO they had to quickly retreat to their original positions.

Simultaneously with the "Tornadoes", government forces also deployed the X-NUMX-millimeter multiple launch rocket launcher systems BM-220 "Uragan" for strikes against the militants. According to SIPRI, there were several “Hurricanes” at the beginning of the conflict in service with the Syrian army, but until February 27, they were not used in battles, and there was no reliable evidence of their presence among government forces.

220-millimeter MLRSs operated in the same place as their elder Smercha brothers, striking 9М27К (К1) missiles with fragmentation submunitions. A little later, the first photos of the Hurricanes appeared on social networks; one of them showed the emblem of the Russian Airborne Forces on the cockpit. There is no reliable information about what real losses BM-27 inflicted on the militants. It is noteworthy that, in contrast to the “Hurricanes”, photos of long-range “Smerches” in Syria appeared only in September.

The newspaper “Military Industrial Courier” asked to evaluate the possible effectiveness of powerful long-range MRLS “Smerch” and “Hurricane” in the conditions of the Syrian conflict of an artillery officer familiar with these systems: “Such systems are designed to destroy stationary or slow-moving targets in the depth of enemy defenses. You can effectively cover the column on the march, but you need good intelligence and target designation almost in real time. Good for such tasks are suitable drones. It should be understood that the area of ​​destruction, especially for missiles with submunitions, is very large and such missiles cannot be used near its front edge of defense. Judging by the video chronicles, the militants have no field fortifications, but still they mostly operate in small groups on armed vehicles. Shooting at such targets with "Tornadoes" is stupid, but using fortifications, accumulations of cars and armored vehicles, warehouses and control points, the use of such systems is justified. "

In addition to the new MLRS, in February 2014 for the first time, there was noted for the first time quite a massive use of unmanned aerial vehicles, in particular Iranian Mohajer, for reconnaissance and correction of artillery fire. In 2015, various Russian-made UAVs appeared in Syria, for example, the Orlan-10.

On the official page of the Syrian army in the social network Facebook published records of fire not only reactive volley fire systems, but also barreled artillery for fortifications, command posts and ammunition depots of militants.

“Judging by the video, shooting accuracy is low. They shoot for a long time, cannot cover targets, spend a bunch of ammunition. We must understand that it is not enough just to hang over the target of the UAV. It is also necessary to correctly calculate the amendments, to adjust the fire. The video shows that the Syrian professionalism is growing, but they still have a lot to learn. Well, at least the towed-away howitzers have been rolled out for direct fire, ”the commander of the howitzer self-propelled artillery battery of the motorized rifle brigade of the Russian Armed Forces explains to the publication.

Only without nonsense

Since the start of the operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria, the arsenal of government troops has been replenished with the TOS-1A Solneptek flame-throwing systems and towed 152-mm howitzer MSTA-B. It is noteworthy that the Sunpieces delivered to the SAR were installed on the chassis of not T-90С tanks, as previously transferred to Azerbaijan and Iraq, but older T-72 tanks, which can speak about supplies from the Russian army.

It should be noted that if TOC is considered an artillery system abroad, in the Russian army these heavy flame-throwing systems are related to the armament of RCBZ troops.

For the first time, cars similar to TOC-1А are seen on September 10 aboard a large landing ship Nikolai Filchenko going to Syria. At the beginning of October, combat and transport-charging vehicles were photographed on trailers in the direction of the front line, and two weeks later, video clips and photographs of the use of the “Sun Chains” for militants in the northeast of Lattakia, the so-called Salma enclave, appeared for the first time (opposition-held areas around Salma).

Judging by the available data, in Syria, the “Suns" are used in the same way as multiple rocket launchers, despite the much shorter firing range (no more than six thousand meters).

“TOC is not the MLRS with thermobaric charges, as many believe. They operate behind the combat orders of the advancing troops to destroy and suppress the enemy fortifications and their firing points. Therefore, the complex is installed on a tank chassis with additional protection. During the fighting in Chechnya, the TOC was always covered by our troops. There were cases that the militants fired at them not only from small arms, but also from grenade launchers and even an ATGM, ”says an officer of the RCBZ troops.

Apparently, the Syrian troops do not want to risk such an expensive vehicle, especially given the enemy’s long-range US anti-tank "Tou-2", preferring to fire from a safe distance. But it must be understood that with a firing range of six kilometers, TOC still remains quite vulnerable.

The first photos of towed 152-mm howitzers MSTA-B in Syria appeared in late October. It is noteworthy that for towing these artillery systems, regular tractors of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, four-axle KAMAZ-6350 with a characteristic protected cabin, intended for transportation of calculations, are used.

According to reports, a convoy consisting of several MSTA-B, accompanied by a radio station P-166-0,5, trucks, probably with ammunition, as well as infantry, proceeded to the northeast of Latakia, where TOC-1А was already operating by that time. If nothing is yet known about the participation of 152-mm howitzers in battles in the Salma region, then the MSTA-B fire platoon recently appeared in video footage of the battles in Homs province, where he supported the government offensive along with the Mi-24 helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

However, as in the case of the “Hurricanes” and “Tornadoes” that have been fighting in Syria for the past year and a half, the real effectiveness of TOC and MSTA-B is still unknown. There is only a video chronicle of how calculations of howitzers, as well as effective ruptures of thermobaric charges TOC on the mountain, where, according to Syrian officials, were the enemy fortifications.

Interviewed by the Military Industrial Courier newspaper, the Russian artillery officers found it difficult to assess how effective the flamethrower systems and towed howitzers would turn out to be effective.

It should be noted that, albeit with difficulty, the Syrian army’s attack on the positions of ISIL continues, there are already liberated settlements, the airbase has been unblocked. Literally in a year and a half, Syrian government forces received an arsenal of powerful and modern artillery systems: the Smerch MLRS and the Hurricane MLRS, the Solntsepek fire-throwers and even the MSTA-B towed howitzers. All this technique is actively used in battles. As a result, one can cite the words of a Russian artillery officer: “This is a serious force capable of sweeping away the fire of any enemy. Only it needs to be used competently and professionally. And do not waste on stupidity. "
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  1. Shiva83483
    Shiva83483 21 November 2015 06: 31
    A camping solarium for the enemy, has not been canceled ... especially for the "stoned" continent ...
  2. dchegrinec
    dchegrinec 21 November 2015 06: 44
    Therefore, the question arises of the introduction of ground forces, that the Syrian military cannot competently combat operations using our equipment. And then we say to ourselves: the introduction of Russian troops is not considered. But how long will we observe the weak offensive of the Syrian army .
    1. Logos
      Logos 21 November 2015 22: 36
      It would be better if this question did not arise. Since it is not the Syrian military who are inexperienced (after so many years of war!) And not the technique is bad, this is the nature of modern warfare.
      The technique, sharpened for use in general search operations during the Cold War, shows itself worse in the conditions of modern combat. The same CBT "Buratino" will be almost useless, I'm sure. In order for it to be at least something useful, the enemies need to gather in dense clusters less than 6 km from the front line, and they do not do this and do not strive. So neither the introduction of the Russian military nor the increase in bombing will, in principle, change the situation.
  3. Mountain shooter
    Mountain shooter 21 November 2015 07: 54
    Platoon-level gunners can be trained in six months. If you don't play the fool. I look at the footage of the SA artillerymen, and the evil takes. They crawl like boiled ones, they don't check the aiming after the shots. Correction - obviously not in progress - no corresponding commands are heard. So it is possible to release a wagon of shells into the "white light" without any sense. The militants are in the field fortifications. Three shells for sighting, and is covered with rapid fire, otherwise they will have time to hide, and that's it. Fallen - not fallen. And here - as if they are playing war games - they "squeeze out" the enemy. Not envelopes, detours, sudden intensive fire raids, etc. According to the books, so ours attacked near Moscow, in the 41st. And near Rzhev. We shed a lot of blood until we learned.
    1. Throw
      Throw 21 November 2015 11: 21
      Here are these to learn. For a long time, something is true ...
      1. Dam
        Dam 21 November 2015 23: 55
        Sorry for the intolerance, but in relation to the Arabs the correct word is not taught, but trained.
    2. PQ-18
      PQ-18 21 November 2015 18: 08
      I look at the footage of the SA artillerymen, and the evil takes. They crawl like boiled ones, they don't check the aiming after the shots. Correction - obviously not in progress - no corresponding commands are heard. So it is possible to fire a wagon of shells into the "white light" without any sense

      So those Papuans who fight against Assad are NOT BETTER! ...
      only act more actively and brazenly in the attack by small gangs (squads)
  4. eugraphus
    eugraphus 21 November 2015 09: 29
    "War is a very difficult, very important and very responsible job, and not a feat of boundless courage." In my opinion, it is said very accurately, I wrote it down in my notebook with catch phrases. Let's hope that the Syrians learn to fight well, but they have enough desire and stamina.
    1. PQ-18
      PQ-18 21 November 2015 18: 17
      Let's hope that the Syrians will learn how to fight well, but they have enough desire and perseverance.

      (their Arab-Israeli war of 1967 \ 70g did not teach ANYTHING)
      and there was NO "resilience" in the defense of Assad's army - and NO!
      (not that mentality .. the Arabs are G-NO warriors, only "kamikaze" are good)
      their Jews, with their air raids, "teach" ALL LIFE, but there is NO sense ...
      waiting for the Russians and Iranians to bring them victory on the dish ...
      1. Dad Uassia
        Dad Uassia 21 November 2015 22: 48
        Modern Arabs can not be compared with the Arabs of the Middle Ages.
        1. 3officer
          3officer 21 November 2015 23: 59
          Quote: Dad Wassia
          Modern Arabs can not be compared with the Arabs of the Middle Ages.

          Head cutting technique is quite comparable. Old school
      2. Madbir
        Madbir 22 November 2015 23: 25
        maybe they’re just tired of fighting. For so many years, the whole country has been burning, there is no front line, and there is no hope of victory either.
  5. sergosam
    sergosam 21 November 2015 09: 33
    Being in Syria in 83-84, as part of the S-200 regiment, I saw enough of these warriors in all their glory. The only combat-ready units, according to our military leadership, were tankmen and special forces. All the rest were so-so. And it was with my father, what to say about Today. The picture was shown on TV the work of the Syrian "Grads", they are sitting drinking tea, the war doesn’t care. So it was then, everywhere there are stoves, kettles. Wherever you come, tea, coffee, "bukra" - that is, tomorrow. The officers have a worker day until 14.00 then "khalas" as they said, that is, everything. Everyone had their own business. Whoever had shops, cafes, workshops, etc. Dad forbade them later, so they formalized everything for relatives. Everything is like we have now. What a war, business comes first. We came to receive equipment after studying in Krasnovodsk, generally oak, oak, and only with the help of chisels from the side of their officers, they were taught something. tea all day long. That was such an army, I think today did not go far. Tankers and special forces are fighting h, no one else.
    1. Talgat
      Talgat 21 November 2015 10: 08
      Quote: sergosam
      and tea for days. This was such an army, I think today hasn’t gone far. Tankers and special forces are fighting, no one else.

      I also heard this, but I must say thank you for fighting and resisting in general. After all, they could have scattered arms over the years over the years - it’s hard to hold onto the USA of the West and the Saudis for so many years

      And by the way, the Iranians themselves are fighting there - the IRGC + Hezbollah. These will be more active - but it is unclear how many are there. Under the USSR, Cubans and Nicaraguans would probably be sent there, as usual wink

      But now everything has collapsed - the Cubans just sympathize and morally support, well, except that these camps are with Venezuela Nicaragua and so on - yes, good help - at least there is some rest for the hezbollah and the Xirs
      1. Dam
        Dam 21 November 2015 23: 57
        It would be where to run, they would have already run away.
      2. Madbir
        Madbir 22 November 2015 23: 29
        I don’t think they have a way out. The army always rested on the Alawites, but they should not be surrendered, they still will not be left alive.
    2. Prometey
      Prometey 21 November 2015 19: 49
      Quote: sergosam
      Tankers and special forces are fighting, no one else.

      And when were Arabs able to fight? Always kept only at the expense of Soviet specialists.
      1. Dad Uassia
        Dad Uassia 21 November 2015 22: 50
        Modern almost never. Except perhaps forcing the Suez and capturing the Eye of Israel radar.
  6. Zaurbek
    Zaurbek 21 November 2015 10: 12
    In general, I was always amazed how, in the presence of artillery in the standards of Soviet platoons and divisions in Syria, they manage to surrender cities and fall into encirclement.
  7. istoler
    istoler 21 November 2015 11: 34
    It is the duty of each people to defend their homeland on their own, if the Arabs do it through their sleeves, it means their fate to be beaten and controlled from the outside. If the Syrian army liberates itself, then Syria deserves to be free. Russia’s conscience is clear; for the ally, it has done everything possible by 110%, and Russian soldiers are not obliged to die for Syria. At one time, we all won the monstrous wars on our land, and whose soldiers did not help us.
    1. PSih2097
      PSih2097 21 November 2015 19: 02
      Quote: istoler
      At one time, we all won the monstrous wars on our land, and whose soldiers did not help us.

      only now everyone wants to cling to us, or even rewrite history.
      I recall Zadornov talking about how the American cavalry stormed Paris in 1814 ... laughing
  8. biznaw
    biznaw 21 November 2015 14: 07
    Kadyrov is eager for Syria, a request for a request to send Chechen battalions into battle. Like, we are Putin’s infantry and hold us tight, otherwise we will beat everyone. At first I thought that Kadyrov was cunning, ostentatious devotion. But now I think it can really, a tooth on his shaitans for a perversion of Islam.
    1. Talgat
      Talgat 22 November 2015 12: 01
      He is not only eager for Syria. But also to Ukraine. On TV, he expressed his position - to turn off gas altogether, no discounts, no gas. no loans. and instead send him there himself led by 70 000 Chechen fighters and the problem will be immediately solved

      Joking as a joke, but the paradox is that little Chechnya is now able to smash Ukraine one on one and take Kiev and Lviv for sure. Well, maybe the Ossetians with the Ingush still help them. But since there is the USA and the West, the GDP has not yet let Razmzan Akhmatovich and his army go to Syria or Ukraine.
  9. His
    His 21 November 2015 15: 54
    Information from Barmina.
  10. kotvov
    kotvov 21 November 2015 19: 46
    but also individual missiles, which in turn are launched from artificially made PUs,
    I don’t understand this. These single installations are only suitable for teratoacts, and militarily zero price.
  11. mvg
    mvg 21 November 2015 20: 28
    All equipment, more complicated than a camel, is aerobatics. Their war with the Jews is an indicator. Whatever the numerical and technical superiority, everything is delayed ... t.! And these are not only Syrians. And the Saudis are the same, both Iraqis and Iranians, regardless of Shiites, Alawites, Sunnis, Kurds, friends, Turkmens .. In the course of this war there is a clear winning side - Jews, and everyone else .. with their +/-.
    There are shots about the Arab MiG-29, but I am sure that there is not a black man at the helm, but a mercenary. There are combat-ready guards on the T-72 (YouTube), and the majority do not seek either Allah or victory.
    On a fig to them Msta-B? Or Grad, Hurricane, Tornado, Pinocchio - it's like a goat button accordion. Then one Jew on the site doubted correctly that there were 2-3 officers per battery sufficient .. Not that contingent.
  12. Klos
    Klos 21 November 2015 21: 31
    I believe that this story cannot be complete without "polite people". Definitely :-)
  13. Stilet
    Stilet 21 November 2015 21: 51
    With all due respect to the Syrians, I do not fully understand their situation. In fact, some scattered bedlam. The country has been fighting for 4 years - have they declared martial law? I look at the video about women, during the day they are on duty at the block of posts, and at night they are replaced by men. They (women) are leaving the crowd on buses home, and then again going back ... Everyone would have fought like that. I understand this - if the war is all who can under-arms and ... until victory. I can understand the change of units for reorganization and / or withdrawal to the rear for rest by the entire unit, and here every day, back and forth, back and forth, are they really not tired of it themselves? I have a Soviet upbringing and it just doesn’t fit in my head - how did our landing on Malaya Zemlya hold on or did the soldiers fight on the Kursk Bulge ?! And the 6th company? Put them (Arabs / Syrians) in the place of our guys - well, it’s just not at any gate ....!
    1. Klos
      Klos 21 November 2015 22: 00
      Another mentality, another war. I will not be surprised if the supreme gives the go-ahead for a ground operation. Support specialists, so to speak :-)
  14. Dad Uassia
    Dad Uassia 21 November 2015 22: 53
    Modern Arabs are a daub. The most combat-ready were the Sadaam Iraq and Syria.
  15. Teplohod
    Teplohod 22 November 2015 08: 24
    The main thing is that it is not like in Afghanistan. The war of the Syrians on terror is not like "Get up huge country, get up to fight to the death."
  16. Pavel Gusterin
    Pavel Gusterin 22 November 2015 09: 05
    The volley is not on the banners, but on the rags.
  17. Velizariy
    Velizariy 23 November 2015 16: 13
    Quote: biznaw
    Kadyrov is eager for Syria, a request for a request to send Chechen battalions into battle. Like, we are Putin’s infantry and hold us tight, otherwise we will beat everyone. At first I thought that Kadyrov was cunning, ostentatious devotion. But now I think it can really, a tooth on his shaitans for a perversion of Islam.

    He even asked many times in VO: how did the Islamites perverted Islam? No one ever answered ...
    So you say: for the perversion of Islam - how did they pervert it, what heresies mixed in, enlighten!