A photograph has recently emerged from Libya showing a modified M577 command vehicle operated by National Liberation Army/Rebel forces. The date and location are unstated although judging from the time of circulation it may relate to the battle for Tripoli.
The M577 is a [tactical] command vehicle based on the M113 APC and easily identified by the heightened crew compartment.
The presence of an M577 in Libya is somewhat of a revelation as it was never a known operator of this specific type. However Libya was known to be a user of the base M113 APC as discussed in this earlier article: http://esotericarmour.blogspot.com/2011/05/libya-m113.html
Analysis of the image also suggests that this is a very early M577. This conclusion based upon the thinner headlight guard and the visible weld seams where the chassis has been modified. This would support the idea that it was probably imported from the US at the same time as the M113s. However it remains unknown how many examples were received or how many were still operational when the civil war broke out.
The circumstances of the capture of this vehicle are also unclear, although some M113s were known to of seized relatively early on in the conflict their serviceability was questionable and there was no evidence that they were ever put into rebel service.
This M577 has been modified by it’s new operators by adding a turret from a BMP-1, housing a 73 mm 2A28 ‘Grom’ low pressure smoothbore semi-automatic gun. It is unknown if the turret has been simply welded in place or the turret ring fitting to allow it to be traversed (turned) manually.
The most obvious place for it to be fitted would be above the commanders hatch allowing access and operation of the gun from beneath as designed. It should be noted that this hatch aperture is quite far forward on the vehicle roof so some further modification to accommodate the turret may be required. However even if the turret/gun is not fully functional its visible addition to a relatively lightly armoured and armed vehicle such as the M577 could act as a valuable deterrent.
The vehicle has also received a rather unsubtle new paint scheme replicating the flag adopted by the National Transitional Council, which itself is a resurrection of the flag used by the Kingdom of Libya between 1951-1969, prior to the coup that saw Gaddafi come to power.
Any further information or photographs regarding this or other M577s in Libya would be greatly appreciated as would a translation of the Arabic text on the side of the vehicle.