Iraq: July 1, 2002


Iraq has not been able to import a lot of new weapons over the last decade, but they have not been idle. Recent attempts by Iraq to shoot down a US warplane have been enhanced by Iraq's modification of a 1960s era Russian anti-aircraft missile (SAM). The Russian made S-125 (SA-3) SAM was designed to be fired from permanent bases. The Iraqis have made the missile mobile, mounting the launcher on a large truck. This way, a missile can be fired, with the launcher and other equipment promptly driven away to a hiding place. This makes it possible for the Iraqis to make more attack attempts without losing as much equipment. Normally, an S-125 has little chance of taking down a US warplane, unless there is a failure of the American countermeasures gear at the right moment. That is a slender enough chance to keep the Iraqis trying.


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