Threat of man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS)

  • 12 Jun. 2007 - 12 Jun. 2007
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  • Last updated: 24 Jun. 2009 15:27

A two-day workshop at NATO HQ, 12-13 June, raised awareness of the threat posed by MANPADS, or shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, to NATO troops in the field.

View of the room

The MANPADS typically use infra-red guidance and can be a threat to low-flying aircrafts and helicopters. Possession, export and trafficking in such weapons is tightly controlled due to the threat they pose to aviation, and there has been considerable concern about their use as terrorist weapons.

79 participants from various countries, NGOs and private companies attended the event, which was officially opened by NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, Alessandro Minuto Rizzo.

After all, just one terrorist attack with MANPADS - successful or not- could destroy any national economy. And that is, indeed, a significant threat," said Kent Jamison, NATO arms control analyst. 

To counter this threat both to civilian and military aviation, the United Kingdom leads the “Large Aircraft Survivability” initiative within NATO. This initiative is designed to improve the survivability of large-body aircrafts against MANPADS. It also contributes to the protection of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Fleet (AWACS), a critical component of NATO’s command and control capability.