Libya (National Liberation Army) / Qatar Ratel 20

Footage reportedly taken on 31/07/2011 in Benghazi was recently broadcast by an unknown television station and shows  a Ratel 20 IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) operating in Libya.   

Libya was not known to be an operator of the South African made Ratel 20 and it was quickly noted on the discussion forums of www.militaryphotos.net that this vehicle had the flag of Qatar painted on the side.  Qatar was also not thought to be an operator of this type, although South African arms export customers are not always openly disclosed.

Some observers have interpreted this footage as evidence that Qatar has deployed forces on the ground in support of the National Liberation Army (rebels) .  However upon closer inspection of the footage I have identified the additional presence of the National Liberation Army/National Transitional Council flag which suggests Qatar were likely the suppliers rather than the current operators.

Qatar and National Liberation Army/National Transitional Council flag visible on the front left of the Ratel 20
The supply of an IFV to the National Liberation Army is potentially controversial.  It is also interesting that no attempt has  been made to hide its origins, especially as Qatar may be in breach of the end-user certificate with South Africa in supplying them to a third party.

One should consider that although produced as an IFV there is evidence that the vehicles prime weapon; a turret mounted 20mm semi-automatic cannon, has been removed and it is unclear if the coaxial 7.62mm machine gun is still present.  This would therefore reduce the its capability and could limit it to the APC (armoured personnel carrier) role as it can carry atleast seven personnel in addition to the standard crew.

20mm semi-automatic gun barrel comparison

Youtube video of the television footage.  The Ratel is first visible between 07:33 - 07:46 and then again at approximately 08:05.  This footage sequence is repeated later in the broadcast.

UPDATE: 29/08/2011 

Another photograph has emerged of a Ratel 20 in Libya.  Although only a partial view of the top of the vehicle, the turret is unmistakeably that of a Ratel 20.  The apparent removal of the main 20mm armament, as discussed previously, has been addressed by the addition of a ZPU-1 AA gun.  This gun has seen widespread use in the Libya civil war often being mounted to the rear of pick up truck technicals.  It remains unknown how many Ratels were delivered to the National Liberation Army or if this is the same one featured in earlier footage.

ZPU-1 with standard AA mount, welded on top of  the stowage rack of Ratel 20.  The effectiveness of this addition beyond  long range suppressive fire may be compromised due the obstructive positioning behind the turret and the obviously vulnerable position of the gunner.
UPDATE: 29/08/2011

Another day and yet another photograph of a Ratel 20 in Libya.  This photograph was reportedly taken on or before 24/08/2011 in relation to the battle from Tripoli and clearly shows the turret of a Ratel 20..  This example has been modified with the addition of a russian made UB-16-57UMP rocket pod housing S-5 unguided rockets.  This pod is normally mounted on aircraft and no doubt taken from captured Libyan Air force stocks.

A Libyan rebel poses on rocket pod mounted above the turret of a Ratel 20.  The rocket pod is a believed to be a UB-16-57UMP, the 16 referring to the number of rockets and the 57 referring the diameter (mm) of the launch tubes.  Also apparent is the removal of the 20mm gun barrel normally fitted to this variant.
UPDATE: 03/09/2011

Further footage has emerged courtesy VOA (Voice of America) News showing what appears to be the modified Ratels mentioned in the previous two updates.  Note the apparent absence of the Qatar or NTC flag.

Youtube video of original broadcast:

1 comment:

  1. >and the 57 referring to the weight of the launcher (kg)

    This is incorrect - 57 denotes the rocket tube calibre - 57 mm. Weight of an empty UB-16-57 is slightly less than 57 kg - 50-52 (depends on modification).

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-5_rocket : "The S-5 is a 55 mm (2.2 in) calibre unguided rocket fired from a 57 mm calibre tube"

    Weight described there (in russian)