Pirates and Stingers
The popular conception of Stinger missiles are Soviet helicopters during the 1980s Afghan occupation crashing to earth due the effective use by the Mujahdeen of the advanced portable SAMs. Could the world-wide fleet of ships patrolling Somali waters now be at risk from the same lethal weapons? From the Korea Times:
According to an informed military source, the U.S.-led Combined Forces Command (CFC) in Seoul delivered a memo to the defense ministry’s information bureau on April 5. Carrying a picture of the U.S. Stinger missile system, the memo said intelligence was collected that Somalia’s pirates were presumed to have obtained the shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile from al-Qaeda, so South Korea’s military should be on alert and come up with proper countermeasures, the source said.
The information was subsequently distributed to the Cheonghae unit operating off the coast of Somalia and other related naval units here, he said. The source added the information is believed to have been gathered either from the U.S. Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain or the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa, Florida.
The Stinger missile is a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile developed in the United States for service in 1981. The shoulder-launched weapon has to date been responsible for downing 270 aircraft. The missile can hit targets flying as high as 3,500 meters at a speed of Mach 2. It has a range of 8 kilometers.
During the Gulf Wars, Western navies used Lynx helicopters armed with Sea Skua missiles to destroy large portions of Saddam’s small boat fleet. Britain also used them to good effect earlier in the Falklands. The Koreans deploy the Lynx on its warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden. The larger warships still expect to defend themselves with helos against asymmetrical threats such as small craft armed with explosives, suicide boats, although this new menace will call for some drastic countermeasures.
Cheonghae’s Lynx helicopter is known to be vulnerable to any anti-aircraft guided missile attacks since it has no missile countermeasure devices and sensors, including flare dispensers and radar warning receivers.
Can some one now say there is a link between terrorism and piracy, just like we finally admitted Al Qaeda was aiding and abetting the Iraq Insurgency? The West is in serious denial and this is in no way helping the war effort.
In a related story, we hear that the former USSR may have trained some of the Somali pirates. From Fairplay shipping via USNI blog:
Sergey Bliznyuk told the Ukrainian newspaper Gazeta Po-Kievskiy that he had personally come across some men he now believes are behind many hijackings. “There are many former military men among the Somalis who have perfected the tactics of sea combat,” he said. “The majority of these 40-50-year-olds were trained in the former Soviet Union.
“I myself taught at one point at a school in Baku [Azerbaijan], where we had 70-80 Somalis a year studying.”
Bliznyuk told the newspaper that Soviet officers had trained naval personnel from the government of President Siad Barre, who ruled Somalia in 1969-91 after a military coup. Further, Bliznyuk told the newspaper: “The USSR taught not only Somali natives but also those of Yemen, Ethiopia and others. Who would have assumed then that they would turn against us?”
Seems the pirates are doing what the Red Navy in all its might could not do, humble the mighty navies of the West!