The United States and NATO allies are rushing arms shipments to Ukraine, including shoulder-fired Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS)
- MANPADS are short-range, lightweight, and portable surface-to-air missiles that individuals or small groups can fire to destroy aircraft or helicopters.
- Countries such as India, Pakistan, Germany, the UK, Turkey, and Israel have also used MANPADS in their defense efforts.
- Russia is by far the largest MANPAD exporter.
- MANPADS have an 8-kilometer maximum range and can engage targets at altitudes of 4.5 kilometres.
- The first MANPADS were introduced in the 1960s by the United States and the Soviet Union.
- They can be shoulder-fired, launched from atop a ground vehicle, fired from a tripod or stand, and a helicopter or boat.
- The vast majority of them have passive or “fire and forget” guidance systems. The operator is not required to guide the missile to its target, allowing them to immediately run and relocate after firing.
- The missiles are fitted with infrared seekers which use heat radiation emitted by the airborne vehicle to identify and target it.
- Non-state actors, such as rebel and terrorist groups, are known to have illegally obtained MANPADS and used them during civil wars and other high-intensity conflicts over time.
- They aid in the protection of troops from aerial attacks and are most effective against low-flying aircraft.