Man-portable air defense system

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A man-portable air defense system (MANPADS) is a small surface-to-air missile system designed to be operated by one soldier, possibly with an assistant. Such systems may have a reusable sight and control section with disposable missile containers, or, less often, may be a completely disposable unit. Small missiles of this type have also been adapted to vehicle or helicopter mounts, and MANPADS teams are being assigned to ships not equipped with dedicated close-in weapons systems (CIWS) such as the gun system or RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile.

Representative current MANPADS include the U.S. FIM-92 Stinger and the Russian 9K38 Igla (NATO reporting name SA-16 GROUSE. The first generation of such missiles included the Soviet 9K32 Strela-2/NATO: SA-7 GRAIL and U.S. FIM-43 Redeye.

Their basic guidance mode is heat-seeking infrared, although the Stinger combines infrared and ultraviolet sensors.

There is considerable concern about the use of such weapons by insurgents. The U.S. changed the course of the Afghanistan War (1978-92) by providing Stinger missiles to the anti-Soviet insurgents, completely changing a situations where the Soviets had dominated with armed helicopters. They may well be on the international arms market, and are small enough to be stolen. Concern over their use by non-national terrorists has led to serious consideration of equipping commercial airliners and transport aircraft with countermeasures. Combat and VIP transport aircraft of major nations long have had such countermeasures, and they are being extended to all military aircraft.

The U.S. Department of State has made Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr the S Special Envoy for Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) Threat Reduction.