On August 22, the Russian news outlet Vedomosti reported on an exhibit of the Russian Ministry of Defense at the forum “Army 2018.” The exhibit features several anti-tank rockets and launchers supposedly captured by Russian forces in Syria. The Russian trophies allegedly include the highly advanced American FGM-148 Javelin system.
Vedomosti cites a “source close to the Ministry of Defense” who claimed that the Javelin was most likely captured from Islamic State fighters in Syria, “acquired by ISIS after the U.S. forces lost it." There is just one problem – the missile on display is not a Javelin.
Eagle-eyed experts on Twitter quickly recognized the alleged “Javelin” launcher on the right side of the photo to be the French APILAS anti-tank rocket launcher, developed by GIAT Industries.
There is scant evidence that the Javelin was ever provided to any faction in Syria. Only one photo and a video show the weapon system in that country, in the hands of fighters from the Kurdish YPG/YPJ backed by the U.S. and coalition. However, the State Department denied that the weapons were provided to the Kurdish forces and that U.S. and other NATO special operations personnel were operating with the Kurds at the time the photo and video surfaced. This means it is possible that any Javelins might have been controlled by those special forces personnel rather than the local forces they were assisting.
Interestingly, Syrian government forces announced that they had captured several APILAS launchers in July 2018.