American A-10 Reportedly Shot At By ISIS Militants With Strela MANPADS In Iraq
David Cenciotti, writing on his blog this evening — The Aviationist — (Jan.19, 2015), writes that “according to a report by Iraqi News, an American A-10/Warthog was shot at with four Strela surface-to-air missiles/MANPADS, during recent airstrikes by the Warthogs (as the Thunderbolts are referred to in the pilot community) — on ISIS positions near Mosul, in Iraq.”
Mr. Cenciotti adds that, “based on reports by unnamed sources who witnessed the attack, the A-10’s killed and wounded several terrorists; but, were also targeted by ISIS militants — who allegedly attempted to shoot down the U.S. aircraft — which were flying at low-altitude, using 9K32, Strela-2/NATO reporting name SA-7) GRAIL) man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude, IR (infra-red) guided, surface-to-air missile systems.”
“Even though the Warthogs were not hit by the surface-to-air missiles,” Mr. Cenciotti wrote, “the episode seems to confirm that flying at medium altitude, and loitering over the battlefield, the A-10s face the threat of MANPADS — known to be in possession by Islamic State forces.” “Still,” he concludes. “the Warthog is a tough plane that has already shown its special ability to bring the pilot back to their home-base — in spite of heavy damage by ground fire.”
ISIS has already published online — “How To Shoot Down A U.S. Apache Helicopter,” and I suspect shooting down a U.S. fighter and attempting to capture a U.S. pilot alive — is one of their highest priorities. MANPADS are easy to hide; very mobile; and, difficult to find and target from the air. ISIS claimed to have downed a Jordanian coalition fighter aircraft last month over northern Syria. Whether it was or was not, makes little difference, as ISIS scored a huge propaganda victory by claiming it did — displaying the wreckage and the captured pilot on video.
Various press reporting noted that ISIS militants managed to secure a huge cache of MANPADS last August, after overrunning a Syrian Air Force base at Tabqa in Raqqa Province. At the time, Matt Schroeder, a Senior Researcher at the Switzerland-based research group — Small Arms Survey — “warned that jihadists had looted a large cache of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles — with their seizure of the Tabqa airbase — that could mark a “significant proliferation,” of the missiles across the region.” The enemy gets a vote. V/R, RCP