What are MANPADS that the West is sending Ukraine?

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What is the News?

The United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO) are shipping weapons into Ukraine, including highly sensitive items such as shoulder-fired missiles called Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems (MANPADS) that can take down aircraft.

What are MANPADS?

MANPADS are short-range, lightweight and portable surface-to-air missiles that can be fired by individuals or small groups to destroy aircraft or helicopters.

They help shield troops from aerial attacks and are most effective in targeting low-flying aircraft.

The first MANPADS were introduced by the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s.

Russia is by far the biggest exporter of MANPADs. Countries such as India, Pakistan, Germany, the UK, Turkey and Israel have also used MANPADS in their defence efforts.

Key Features of MANPADS

Range: MANPADS have a maximum range of 8 kilometres and can engage targets at altitudes of 4.5 km.

Shoulder-Fired: They can be shoulder-fired, launched from atop a ground vehicle, fired from a tripod or stand, and from a helicopter or boat.

Light Weight: They are fairly lightweight as compared to other elaborate weapon systems, making them easy to operate by individual soldiers.

Fire and Forget Guidance Systems: Most of them have passive or ‘fire and forget’ guidance systems, meaning that the operator is not required to guide the missile to its target, enabling them to run and relocate immediately after firing.

Infrared (IR) Seekers: The missiles are fitted with infrared (IR) seekers that identify and target the airborne vehicle through heat radiation being emitted by the latter.

Concerns with MANPADS

Civilian Attacks: According to a 2019 study, more than 60 civilian aircraft have been hit by MANPADS since the 1970s, claiming the lives of more than 1,000 civilians.

Illicit Use by Non-State Actors: Over time, non-state actors such as rebel and terrorist groups are known to have illicitly acquired MANPADS using them during civil wars and other high-intensity conflicts.

Source: This post is based on the article What are MANPADS that the West is sending Ukraine?published in Indian Express on 17th Mar 2022.

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