Hamas Fires SA-7 Missiles To Target Israeli Apache Helicopter in Unprecedented Clash Over Gaza


As reported by "The Times of Israel" on January 2, 2024, a significant development occurred in the ongoing conflict in the region. For the first time, it has been confirmed that members of Hamas utilized SA-7 man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS)  to target an Israeli AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. This incident took place over the Gaza Strip on the morning of December 31, 2023, during an operation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
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An Israeli army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. (Picture source Army Recognition)


The situation escalated during the IDF's airstrikes when Hamas militants reportedly launched two SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles at helicopters operating west of Gaza City, as stated by Palestinian media sources. The IDF acknowledged the launch of anti-aircraft missiles directed at their helicopters. However, they refrained from providing details on the number of missiles fired. The military further confirmed that the missiles failed to hit their targets and resulted in no injuries or damage.

The AH-64 Apache is an advanced multi-role attack helicopter primarily used by the United States Army. Developed by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, it serves as a highly versatile platform, capable of performing in various missions, including attack, reconnaissance, and defense. The Apache is renowned for its survivability, agility, and advanced weaponry. It features a tandem cockpit for a two-person crew consisting of a pilot and a co-pilot/gunner. The AH-64 is equipped with a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. Its armament includes a 30mm M230 Chain Gun carried under the fuselage, and it can carry a mix of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods on its stub-wing pylons, making it a formidable asset in both anti-armor and support roles.

Since its introduction in the 1980s, the Apache has been continuously updated and upgraded, leading to several variants, the most advanced being the AH-64E. This variant offers improved digital connectivity, more powerful engines, and upgraded sensors and avionics. The Apache has been used extensively in various conflicts, proving its effectiveness in combat situations. Its ability to operate in all weather conditions and its compatibility with modern military technology make it one of the most potent attack helicopters in the world. The Apache's success has led to its adoption by several other countries, solidifying its role as a critical component of modern military aviation.

The SA-7 MANPADS (Man-Portable Air-Defense System), known as the 9K32 Strela-2, is designed for engaging low-flying aircraft. Developed in the Soviet Union in the 1960s, it is a shoulder-fired, infrared homing missile system. The SA-7's effectiveness is largely due to its simplicity and portability, allowing it to be operated by a single individual. It targets aircraft by homing in on their infrared emissions, typically from the engines. The missile is encased in a launch tube that also serves as the launcher, and upon firing, a solid-fuel rocket motor propels it towards its target.

The operational range of the SA-7 is relatively limited, with an effective firing range of about 4200 meters (approximately 2.6 miles). Its altitude engagement capacity is also modest, with an effective ceiling of around 1500 meters (about 4900 feet). These characteristics make it suitable for targeting low-flying helicopters and planes. Despite being an older system, the SA-7 has been widely used in various conflicts globally and remains a concern due to its availability and ease of use. However, its limited range and altitude capability, coupled with susceptibility to modern countermeasures like flares and electronic jamming, restrict its effectiveness against more advanced and well-equipped aircraft.


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