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  • Libyan Anti-Aircraft Missiles Disappear and Now the Search Is On
    Posted by David A. Fulghum 9:15 AM on Oct 05, 2011

    There are lots of empty SA-24 Grinch anti-aircraft missile shipping crates left in Libyan military warehouses. U.S. officials are still investigating whether they had been emptied before the conflict — which could indicate clandestine sales to the black market or a third country — or were among the many weapons carried off by looters as thefts of opportunity.

    But there are ominous signs.

    “There are ringing indicators that some Manpads — type non-specific — have left the country,” says Army Gen. Carter Ham, chief of Africa Command.

    “The first question is how many [SA-24s and other Manpads] were there [originally],” he says.  “A State Department-led Manpads task force has been operating for a couple of months with neighboring countries to make sure that border security is addressing this concern."

    Moreover, U.S. officials are still confused about why Libya’s stockpile of new, advanced SA-24 Grinch Manpads were not fired at NATO aircraft during the battle to oust Moammar Gadhafi. The weapons are perhaps the most sophisticated, light, anti-aircraft missiles made by Russia, and they are certainly the most sought-after by insurgents shopping the black market.

    “We don’t understand why they weren’t used,” says Ham, speaking at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Possible answers are that the Manpads (9K338 Igla-S in Russian nomenclature) were not issued to the troops and never left their warehouses, that the troops were never trained to use the new weapons, or that they were missing parts or were in some other way not yet ready for combat.

    “It’s very clear to me that [Libya’s] National Transitional Council recognizes that concern … and its responsibility to regain [possession] of those that have fallen outside of  government control,” Ham says. "Everything is on the table [including] a buyback program.”

    Tags: ar99, Libya, Manpads

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