Improvised MANPADS batteries employed in Syria

Michael Smallwood

The above video, posted on the 24th of June, shows combatants near Syria’s western city of Hama firing a 9K32M (NATO reporting name: SA-7b) man-portable air defence system (MANPADS) with a non-standard battery attached. Other instances of improvised batteries being used with MANPADS have previously been documented in Syria, with one video released by Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants demonstrating how they were able to jury-rig a series of motorcycle batteries in order to fit a 9K32M. Another video shows rebels using a 9K32M with an improvised battery being used to successfully engage and bring down a helicopter.

More recently, Syrian rebels posted images to Facebook showing a self-contained rechargeable battery pack believed to be designed to fit the 9K32 and 9K32M systems (see image gallery below). While the post has now been removed, the group posted brief technical specifications claiming the unit weighs 370 grams and allows a targeting window of 30 minutes, significantly longer than the original batteries. With MANPADS documented in Syria often over 40 years old, original batteries may be have deteriorated or been damaged, making improvised solutions attractive.

Feature image source. Special thanks to Damian Spleeters and Eliot Higgins for their assistance.