Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems

IAS Current affairs - Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems

Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems


• United States President Joe Biden approved a $200-million arms package for Ukraine, which would include U.S. made Stinger Missiles, which are a type of shoulder-fired Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems (MANPADS).
• More than 17,000 anti-tank weapons and 2,000 Stinger missiles have already been sent by the U.S. and NATO in the first week of March itself.
• Analysts have said that anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles have been effective in countering Russian military advances in the air and on the ground.


• Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems 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 aircrafts. MANPATs or Man-Portable Anti-Tank Systems work in a similar manner but are used to destroy or incapacitate military tanks.
• MANPADS can be shoulder-fired, launched from atop a ground-vehicle, fired from a tripod or stand, and from a helicopter or boat.
• Weighing anywhere between 10 to 20 kilograms and not being longer than 1.8 meters, they are fairly lightweight as compared to other elaborate weapon systems, making them easy to operate by individual soldiers.
• Operating MANPADS requires substantially less training.

Historical View:

• The first MANPADS were introduced by the United States and Soviet Union in the 1960s. Russian and U.S. MANPADS were also used during the Vietnam war.
• The U.S. supplied MANPADS to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, which the latter used against the Soviet forces.
• Countries such as India, Pakistan, Germany, U.K., Turkey and Israel have also used MANPADS in their defence efforts.

Current Crisis:

• Ukraine still has some of Soviet era longer-range air-defence systems that can target Russian aircraft, which is why Russia is flying them at low altitudes, which in turn makes them more vulnerable to short-range systems like MANPADS.