They say need is the mother of all inventions, well it sure looks like that for the Libyan rebels fighting and taking on Gaddafi’s forces. Despite their high ambitions, Libya’s rebel forces of civilians and army defectors find themselves suffering from a severe lack of weaponry to fully take on Gaddafi’s forces. With a need for survival and to continue fighting on, they have managed to create their own home made working missile launcher.
In this clip, Abdulsalam Elshien of the “Free Libya Martyrs” brigade describes the C5 Missile Launcher, which is essentially an aircraft rocket launcher which the rebels have now re-installed on the back of a pickup truck. Elshien insists that despite their crude appearance, the makeshift weapons have successfully intimidated Gaddafi’s more powerful forces.
Next modified weapon is the GRAD launcher which was originally designed by the Soviet Union during the cold war. The GRAD launchers have around 30 cylinders for rockets mounted on heavy trucks. The rebels found them damaged or destroyed after being used by Gaddafi’s forces against them and managed to salvage- repair them, putting them back into service. Below we hear from one of the drivers headed out to the front lines using one of the modified GRAD launchers, to find out how they work, where they come from, and what the implications are for the rebel military efforts.
Next up is the modified S-5 which is a Soviet-designed rocket launcher normally mounted on attack helicopters, or even MiG jets. They are notoriously inaccurate, but pack a lot of explosive power. The Libyan rebel forces have salvaged S-5 launchers from downed or abandoned aircraft, and have since learned to mount them on vehicles, creating what’s commonly known as a “technical”. But one rebel fighter, Abdelhakkem Eljazwi, has taken the S-5 modifications a step further. Using spare parts, he’s taken the aircraft mounted S-5 launcher and converted it into a shoulder-mounted “RPG”, or rocket-propelled grenade. “Because of the desert nature and long distance between us and the enemy,” Eljazwi says, “we’ve developed this weapon which has a longer range and better efficiency.”
The design is not that complex, but rather effectively simple. The battery powering the launcher is taken from a walkie-talkie. The protective shield is modified riot gear used by police. And the launch buttons used to fire the rocket are actually doorbells. The only original piece of the weapon is the hand-carved shoulder stock, in this case painted with Libya’s revolutionary flag. “It’s comfortable and makes it easier for the user to launch missiles,” Eljazwi explains.