Egyptian Man Finds Missile Launcher in Trash Outside Cairo Airport

An Egyptian man in Cairo found something unusual and worrying in/near Cairo International Airport: A 9K32 Strela-2 “SA-7 Grail” missile launcher, designed to take down aircraft at ranges of over 3 kilometers. The man, Ibrahim Yousry claims he found the missile launcher – launcher only, sans missile – about a mile from the airport, at the side of the road among other trash. From the Telegraph:

The discovery came as Isil released a new video threatening Egypt’s Christian population and describing them as the “favourite prey” of jihadists.

The Egyptian man, Ibrahim Yousry, said he found an SA-7 missile launcher on the side of the road around a mile north of Cairo International Airport as he headed to work.

The weapon has a maximum range of around 2.5 miles and so it could be used at that distance to strike a plane as it landed or took off.

Mr Yousry wrote on Facebook that he was at first afraid to report the launcher to police in case they thought that he had something to do with it. But he said he ultimately decided it was too dangerous to leave the weapon lying around.

“The airport is not far away and it could cause disasters if it was placed here for a reason,” he wrote. “The airplanes here are an easy target because they fly at very low altitude and this is the best position for this weapon to be used.”

The weapon did not appear to be loaded with a missile, he added.

He said he struggled to convince two policemen nearby to take him seriously but that they eventually took the launcher and carried it away.

The 9K32 Strela-2, better known in the West by its NATO designation “SA-7 Grail”, is a 1960s-era Soviet man-portable air defense system (MANPADS). The Strela is designed to be used by a single individual to attack low flying aircraft such as helicopters, close air support fixed wing aircraft, and other low-flying aircraft. It could also be used to attack a larger, higher-flying aircraft during takeoff or landing, which makes the find particularly worrying for police involved in the region. A major airliner would certainly be a very large target for a Strela, but it would be going too far to suggest that SA-7s are not a threat to commercial aircraft. A lucky hit to the fuselage or wing could disable or down the jet, and possibly kill the passengers and crew. Lighter aircraft, however, like twin-engined turboprops and single-engined piston aircraft, are substantially more vulnerable.

Still, without a missile, the SA-7 launcher itself is not very dangerous!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at [email protected]


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  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Its insane that one of the great cultural centers on Earth along with Paris or Rome has devolved into a sectarian war zone.

    Ive always wanted to see the pyramids but its doubtful now that I ever will.

    Looks like somebody stashed the launcher for a second guy to stroll by with the ammo. Best to keep them separated right up until its time to shoot that way you dont lose both if you get searched.

    • int19h

      FWIW, these things aren’t supposed to be easy to reload in the field – the normal way of operation is that they come preloaded with a missile, used, and then sent back to the facility where they are reloaded, so long as the tube is still within specs.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Yeah, youre right but Ive seen some crazy improvised weapons from that part of the world.
        Who knows what it was doing there.
        Still, the airport seems like a weird place to dispose of a missile launcher.

        • Tom – UK

          Maybe it was fired but missed and went unnoticed?

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            I dont know about that…..

            I cant vouch for the security measures around the Cairo airport but there is obviously traffic nearby so I would assume a missile being fired would be noticed by someone.
            But maybe not.

          • Tom – UK

            Given someone was afraid to even report that he had found it alone and by itself I can imagine that many would not want to be the one actively reporting about people shooting missiles.

            Assuming the missile fired, didn’t work and didn’t explode there really wouldn’t be much for anyone to see. Its not like they leave big smoke trails.

          • jamezb

            it would be even less noticeable if it had been fired at night. Big jets are well lit targets making lots of noise at take off and landing.

          • Phillip Cooper

            “Traffic” doesn’t mean gridlock. It could simply be an occasional car comes along.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            True, im just offering some baseless speculation.

          • Phillip Cooper

            Not at all unlikely:

            In late 2001, a Sudanese man with links to Al-Qaida fired an SA-7 at an American F-15 Eagle fighter taking off from Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. The missile missed the target and was not detected by the pilot or anyone at the base. Saudi police found the empty launcher in the desert in May 2002, and a suspect was arrested in Sudan a month later. He led police to a cache in the desert where a second missile was buried.[26]

    • john huscio

      “Gotta keep em separated”

      Now I’ve got that offspring song stuck in my head…….

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Now the terrorists have really won.

    • Badwolf

      Or maybe he just took off to take a dump

    • Tassiebush

      I’m concerned it might have been fired.

  • I wonder if its legal to have the launcher with no missile in the US?

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      Yes, legal.

      You can pay the $200 tax to have it fully functional and legally registered under the NFA as a Destructive Device, or you can demil it to ATF specs and have it as a wall-hanger.

    • Al Wise

      Yes as it is not reloadable. Just a fiberglass tube. Same with AT-4 and M-72 LAW. No problem

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    Nice misleading headline guys.

    • Kivaari

      It says “Missile Launcher”.

      • mazkact

        Kivarri, I think everyone is talking about the header in the body of the email
        Egyptian Man Finds Missile in Trash Outside Cairo Airport

  • Gary Kirk

    MANPADS… Doesn’t quite sound like a missile launcher..

    • El Duderino

      Sounds like your Wal-Mart shopping list?

      • Gary Kirk

        Only after binge eating at the local taco joint.. And don’t shop at Wally world..

  • Pedro Vaz

    The democratization of Libya and Syria caused many great democrats to get their hands on such weapons. In fact in Syria the West is directly supplying great democrats with all kinds of weapons. Geeez…thanks Western Democracy!

    • El Duderino

      Yeah, you’re right — the West is supplying them with 40 year old AA missiles.

      • Hanover Fist

        Don’t forget the BGM-71’s that the Saudi(aka, CIA) has been supplying the “rebels” with.
        They killed a Hind when it set down to pick up a SSO team, using a TOW…

    • Tassiebush

      And meanwhile everyone else is blameless and ethical in their foreign policy…

  • Al Wise

    Misleading title. He found an empty launcher, not a missile. Missing critical battery as well. It is also erroneous to say not a serious threat as SA-7s have taken down C-130s twice, as well as airliners in Africa.

    • Ranger Rick

      The battery is the first thing I checked for also.

    • Should have been “missile launcher”.

      • Kivaari

        The head line says that.

    • John

      Ammo and batteries can be improvised.

  • So… basically he found an empty magazine.

    • El Duderino

      Some doofus brought an expended AT4 to a Seattle gun buyback some time ago, and I believe got cash for it. Lucky fool…getting $100 for a fiberglass tube.

  • El Duderino

    No missile? Should have put that at the beginning and saved me 30 seconds!

    • Kivaari

      Head line says “Missile Launcher”.

      • El Duderino

        Which would have been understandable with a MSM article, where everything painted green is an assault machinegun. Here we can be a little more precise.

        • I was, in the article text. Not everyone knows what a 9K32 Strela-2 is.

          • El Duderino

            Grr. The original point being it’s a lot more interesting if it’s a live tube vs. an expended one.

          • jamezb

            A more telling detail might be whether the battery was live or dead.

  • iksnilol

    Mondays, am I right?

    • Anonymoose

      Today has been the worst Monday I can remember recently. I’ve had some pretty bad Tuesdays and Sundays, though too.

      • skidmark

        Me too. Except I found a $5 bill on the sidewalk.

        • Anonymoose

          The other day I found a $20 in my coat pocket that I must have had in there since like Christmas, but that doesn’t mitigate all the crap I’ve had to go through today.

    • Tassiebush

      It’s Tuesday! Damn slow rest of the world!

      • iksnilol

        Tuesdays are just Monday: Part Deux.

  • LGonDISQUS

    “Yes officer, it was unloaded when I found it” 😉😉😉

  • Dan

    Perhaps some aspiring jihadi used it as a prop for a propaganda video. Guy holding it pointing it a low flying planes, ranting and then when they get what they wanted they throw out the trash. Give the video to their local Isil recruiter etc… just a thought

    • JoelC

      This was my thought. Wouldn’t be hard to find some empty launchers in nearby Libya.

  • skidmark

    I found a $5 bill on the sidewalk tonight. I bought a beer.

    #truestory

  • Tassiebush

    So had it been fired? I’d have thought an empty launcher of this type is a very nasty sign.

  • Peter (BE)

    Interesting and effective way to use a basically harmless object to rustle the jimmies of the authorities.

  • Yeah, I have one of those sitting behind me in the office. Not joking.

  • Franivelius

    Thanks for sharing. Very interesting indeed.

    • Peter (BE)

      +1