Romanian Model 1980 AA gun in service with Al-Bonyan Al-Marsous naval forces

N.R. Jenzen-Jones 

Images shared on social media show a handful of watercraft associated with the Al-Bonyan Al-Marsous operations, operating out of Misrata, Libya. The force includes at least two tugs, the Assameeda, based out of Misrata, and the Almergheb, based out of Tripoli. These vessels have formerly been associated with the Libyan Coast Guard. The tugs are equipped with a range of weapon systems, including 122 mm multiple-barrel rocket launchers, DShKM and KPV type heavy machine guns, and a larger-calibre anti-aircraft gun.

The weapon in question could be mistaken for the ZU-23-2 type anti-aircraft gun, which is built around a pair of the common 2A14 autocannon. These have seen extensive service the world over, and were a staple of the 2011 Libyan Civil War and its aftermath. The weapon in question is, in fact, a Romanian Model 1980 (md. 80) twin-barrelled AA gun, based around a pair of A436 revolver cannon. These were derived from the Soviet Navy’s NN-30 revolver cannon, commonly seen in the AK-230 twin-barrelled naval cannon. Unlike autocannons, revolver cannons feed from a cylinder with multiple chambers in order to speed up the loading, firing, and ejecting process. The NN-30 is chambered for the 30 x 210B mm round, seen below.

The Model 80 is the only recorded land mounting for the A436/NN-30 cannon, and is relatively uncommon outside of Romania, where it is still used by the armed forces (see photo below). At least one Model 80 has previously been documented in Libya, in September 2011.

How these weapons reached Libya remains unclear. According to arms transfer data databased by SIPRI, an unspecified number of “AA guns” (no model given) were exported from Romania to Liberia in 1987. The Model 80 was the only AA gun in Romanian service at the time of the export, and so it is likely these weapons that were transferred. One possibility is that Model 80 AA guns exported from Romania to Liberia were re-transferred to Libya.

Remember, all arms and munitions are dangerous. Treat all firearms as if they are loaded, and all munitions as if they are live, until you have personally confirmed otherwise. If you do not have specialist knowledge, never assume that arms or munitions are safe to handle until they have been inspected by a subject matter specialist. You should not approach, handle, move, operate, or modify arms and munitions unless explicitly trained to do so. If you encounter any unexploded ordnance (UXO) or explosive remnants of war (ERW), always remember the ‘ARMS’ acronym:

AVOID the area
RECORD all relevant information
MARK the area to warn others
SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities