Jeremy Binnie, London – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly
This is the first evidence that FN-6 MANPADS, which has been supplied to some Syrian insurgent groups, allegedly with Qatari assistance, are being used either by Islamic State or in Iraq.
The first of the images, which appear to be a sequence of stills taken from as yet unreleased video footage, shows a militant with an FN-6 and what appears to be an Mi-17 helicopter. However, one of the subsequent images clearly show wreckage from an Mi-35M, including its under-nose turret with twin 23 mm guns and a rack of four 9M114/9M120 guided missiles.
The Iraqi Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed that an Mi-35M was shot down near Bayji in Salah-al-Din province on 3 October. Iraqi officials said a shoulder-fired missile brought down a Bell 407 in the same area on 8 October. The Iraqi Army Aviation Command (IAAC) flies armed scout versions of the Bell 407 that are known as IA-407s.
One of the IS images shows the contrail of a missile that has changed its flight path as it homes in on its target.
This apparent confirmation of the successful use of MANPADS raises questions about the effectiveness of the countermeasures on Iraq’s Mi-35Ms, all of which have been delivered from Russia in the past year. The countermeasures include the Adron KT-01 AVE Adros infrared jamming system and flare dispensers.
IAAC pilots may also be making themselves more vulnerable. Video footage released by the Iraqi MoD has shown helicopters flying along roads: a practice that simplifies navigation, but makes it easier for militants to predict their flight paths and ambush them with MANPADS.
The New York Times reported last year that Qatar has been involved in supplying the FN-6 MANPADS seen in the hands of some Syrian insurgent factions, despite warnings that they could proliferate to more extreme groups like the IS.