Note: After this entry was posted, the Associated Press revealed that the item in question is actually a 20-year-old expended AT-4 anti-tank missile launcher that posed no threat.
This morning a woman from Jersey City discovered a “missile” lying in the grass on her front lawn. Niranjana Besai showed the missile to her neighbor, who told CBS 2 News that at first he thought the 6-foot-long item was just a pipe. Upon closer inspection, he concluded that it looked like the missile launchers he’d seen on TV. The New Jersey television station said that their “sources” told them that the “device is the type used ot shoot shoulder-fired rockets and is capable of taking down an aircraft.”
Little else is known about the item, but initial descriptions are consistent with the physical appearance of many man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), the launch tubes of which are approximately 5 to 6 feet long and look a bit like a pipe. Private ownership of MANPADS is ilegal in the United States, and the version used by the US military – the Stinger missile – is one of the most tighly guarded weapons in its arsenals. If the item is indeed a MANPADS, it would have profound national security and policy implications.
For more information:
ASMP Issue Brief #1: MANPADS Proliferation. One of the largest online repositories of information on manpads. Includes links to over 300 articles, reports, and policy documents on manpads, their proliferation, and control efforts.
“Global Efforts to Control MANPADS” in SIPRI Yearbook 2007: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
The Small Arms Trade (Oxford: Oneworld, 2007). Chapters 5 through 8 provide a 30-year overview of manpads proliferation and control efforts.