Video shows Syrian Mil Mi-25 gunship releasing flares. A sign that rebels got their hands on MANPADS?

The following video, shows a Mil Mi-25 Hind gunship releasing flares during a mission over Talbiseh, Syria on Aug. 15.

Flares are high-temperature heat sources ejected from the aircraft’s dispensers to mislead the missile’s heat-seeking targeting system: since the burn temperature is hotter than that at the engine’s exhaust the burning flares attract and decoy heat-seeking missiles fired at the aircraft.

Since this kind of countermeasure is used against IR (Infra-Red) air-to-air and surface-to-air missile, the fact that an Assad chopper has released flares during a flight might be a sign it was locked by a MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System) in the hands of the rebels.

Lately, Syrian regime helicopters have mainly operated at high altitude most probably because of the threat of anti-aircraft artillery fire (a Mig-23BN was gunned down at low/medium altitude) and MANPADS.

H/T to Damien Spleeters for the heads-up

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. If it was “locked” by a heat-seeking MANPAD, it would have no way of knowing; infrared guidance is done entirely with passive sensors, so there wouldn’t be any warning to the pilot prior to the actual launch.

    • Unless the crew noticed someone on the ground pointing one at them. Although it just might be a brazen Syrian with a length of sewer pipe playing a trick on them… ;-)

  2. they are just being paranoid
    thus far there is no evidence rebels have MANPADs
    I bet all the neighboring countries and USA don’t want weapon leaks in Syria like what happened in Libya/Mali
    and even Turkey gov don’t want the Kurds (PKK) getting MANPADs

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