Iran and Taliban Missiles

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 7 months ago

In July 2007 the Washington Times reported that the Taliban first used missiles against U.S. air assets.

Taliban militants used a heat-seeking, surface-to-air missile to attack a Western aircraft over Afghanistan for the first time last week, coalition military sources say.

The attack with a weapon thought to have been smuggled across the border with Iran represents a worrisome increase in the capability of the militants that Western commanders had long feared.

The sources said the Taliban attempted to bring down an American C-130 Hercules airplane flying over the southwestern province of Nimroz on July 22. The crew reported that a missile system locked on to their aircraft and that a missile was fired.

It closed in on the large C-130, pursuing it as the pilots made a series of violent evasive maneuvers and jettisoned flares to confuse the heat sensors in the nose of the surface-to-air missile, or SAM.

In April 2008 the Telegraph reported that the Afghan Taliban had used Iranian-made missiles on UK troops.

British troops in Afghanistan are being targeted by surface-to-air missiles supplied by Iran, a senior Army source said yesterday.

Officers in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are supplying hundreds of weapons, including the missiles, to Taliban insurgents, it is believed.

Most worrying is the news that SA7 Strella anti-aircraft missiles have been supplied to the Taliban. The weapons are a serious threat to helicopters supplying more than 6,000 troops.

It is not thought the Taliban are well trained in how to use the weapons most effectively. In southern Helmand yesterday they fired an anti-aircraft weapon at an American F18 fighter without hitting it.

Other weapons being smuggled in include plastic explosives, anti-tank mines, AK47s, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.

These two attacks were apparently done with SA-7 missiles, one type of MANPAD system.  As of March 2009, U.S. intelligence believes that the successor to the SA-7, the SA-14 Gremlin, has been procured by the Taliban.

IRAN is supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan with surface-to-air missiles capable of destroying a helicopter, according to American intelligence sources.

They believe the Taliban wants to use the SA-14 Gremlins missiles to launch a “spectacular” attack against coalition forces in Helmand, where insurgents claim to be gaining the upper hand.

Although British and American helicopters operating in southern Afghanistan are equipped with defensive systems to deflect an attempted strike, the SA-14 can evade such counter-measures …

Special forces have previously intercepted arms shipments from Iran that would have helped the Taliban intensify a roadside bombing campaign that has killed 40 British troops over the past 18 months, including three last week.

However, coalition forces only became aware of the presence of SA14s two weeks ago when parts from two of them were discovered during an American operation in western Afghanistan.

In April 2009, U.S. forces destroyed even heavier anti-aircraft weapons.

The US-led coalition troops in a … air strike knocked down two anti-aircraft missile launchers in Nad Ali district, where Taliban militants have a significant influence.

The press release said locals informed security forces about the heavy guns installed on a truck to hunt down choppers of the international forces.

This appears to be something heavier than MANPADS, and the Taliban certainly are not capable of fielding this kind of weaponry themselves.  Iranian hands are all over the supply of the SA-7 and SA-14 to the Taliban, and while it is unknown where these specific heavier weapons came from, one thing is clear.  If the Taliban are armed with anti-aircraft ordnance and the know-how to use it, the campaign in Afghanistan has gotten a lot more dangerous and problematic.

So much for Obama’s attempt to pursue constructive ties with Iran.



  • rrk3

    The Weapons being loaded into the trucks were KPV 14.5mm machine guns. I have read that the Taliban are offering good money to Afghans that may have one stashed. We have destroyed at least two trucks carrying these weapons.
    The KPV (Krubnokalibernyj Pulemet Vladimirova – Vladimirov large calibre / heavy machine gun) was born during WW2 from numerous requests from the Soviet fighting troops, who wanted a heavy MG firing the extra-powerful 14.5×114 armor-piercing ammunition developed for anti-tank rifles. Later on, its ‘tank’ version was used as the primary armament of some armored reconnaissance and personnel carrier vehicles such as BRDM and BTR-70. In the AA role, KPV guns saw considerable action in the hands of the North Vietnamese armed forces, supplied from the USSR and China as military aid (China has produced copies of KPV as 14,5mm Type 56 heavy machine gun). Later on, AA mounts with KPVT guns were used by the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, to fire up at Mujaheddin hiding in the mountains and firing at Soviet bases and convoys from above.
    The KPV entered mass production in about 1950, in infantry (ground-fire only) version with a wheeled mount designed by Kharykin, and in a number of dedicated AA mounts; single, twin and quadruple. In the 1955 the heavy Kharykin mount was replaced in production by a lighter tripod designed by Baryshev. Guns produced prior to 1955 retained their wheeled mounts and both version saw significant use during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The infantry version of this gun had a relatively short production life, being replaced by the improved KPVT (tank) version, which is used for both armored vehicles and dedicated AA mounts, as well as in naval mounts for light patrol vessels.

    The 14.5 can shred any of the the transport helicopters in theater, the Apache is armored to defend against this round. The KPV is also an effective anti-personal weapon that can out range the M2 .50 cal and offers better AP capabilities as well.
    The SA-7 really sucks as an anti air weapon but the Afghans learned to shoot them at truck engines to some effect. But like anything can get lucky.
    The SA-14 on the other had is about the same as the old U.S. Red-Eye system. It has been replaced the SA-18 in Russian service

    While U.S. aircraft are equipped with counter-measures to survive in high threat environment. We have to remember the lesson of Vietnam when conducting helicopter operations that a large volume of Machine Gun fire and RPGs can bring down helicoptors.

    Not a good development but I don’t think it is anything that cannot be countered. What we need to watch for is the presence of 23mm cannons. These however are very heavy but would pose a huge threat to helicoptors and aircraft alike.

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  • http://yahoo Daniel M.K

    It’s good that American coalition forces have known that the Taliban are using weapons imported from Iranians forces, but this will lead for the war to be prolonged thus is worrying Africans will be affected.

    Why is Iran supporting war in Afghanistan yet they say America is causing insecurity in the land of Muslims.


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This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Iran,Taliban and was published April 30th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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