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!