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IRAQ - Fewer public reports of seized shoulder-fired missiles, but MANPADS still a threat

IRAQ - Fewer public reports of seized shoulder-fired missiles, but MANPADS still a threat

Author: Monica Amarelo

Type: Release

WASHINGTON DC -- Publicly available reports of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) discovered in insurgent arms caches in Iraq dropped off precipitously in 2009, but the reason for this decline is unclear.  

A survey of English-language media and U.S. military sources yielded information on only a handful of illicit MANPADS recovered from arms caches in 2009, as opposed to dozens in previous years (See Missile Watch #3: Black Market Missiles Still Common in Iraq).  

Given the rigor of U.S. and Iraqi efforts to recover illicit weapons and dismantle arms trafficking networks, it is possible that terrorists and insurgents did have access to fewer missiles in 2009.  It is also possible that seized MANPADS simply are not being reported as frequently, possibly for security reasons. When queried about the apparent decrease, a representative from Multi-National Forces-Iraq declined to comment, saying only that for operational security, they are unable to provide such details.

Regardless of the reason for the decline in reported seizures, MANPADS remain a threat in Iraq, as evidenced by a recent incident in which a Chinook military helicopter was engaged by multiple MANPADS.  The attack, which was first reported by Aviation Week’s David Fulghum, was reportedly thwarted by the helicopter’s anti-missile system.

To speak with Matt Schroeder, manager of the FAS Arms Sales Monitoring Project, please contact Monica Amarelo, 202-454-4680, [email protected]

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