Mitigating the MANPADS Threat: International Agency, U.S., and Russian Efforts   [open pdf - 804KB]

There are in excess of 500,000 Manned Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) in worldwide inventories including several thousand outside of government control. MANPADS are surface-to-air missile systems enabling the operator to launch missiles at aircraft from the ground. The most common MANPADS are the Russian SA-7 and U.S. Stinger, which feature infrared guidance systems. The concern that MANPADS can easily be acquired by non-state actors intent on downing civilian and military aircraft has led international agencies, the U.S., and Russia to implement measures to reduce the risk of a MANPADS attack. International agencies such as the Wassenaar Arrangement work to stop illegal MANPADS proliferation. The U.S. MANPADS Defense Act and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have implemented measures to counter the MANPADS threat. Russia has revised its export controls and forged a counter-proliferation agreement with most CIS countries. However, the multilateral initiatives to better control MANPADS stocks and transfers are far from comprehensive. A new approach to mitigating the MANPADS threat adopts elements from the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the Landmine Monitor. The conclusion of this thesis is that if MANPADS counter-proliferation efforts remain status quo an attack on a commercial aircraft in the western world is imminent.

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