Skip to comments.Shoulder-Fired Missile Supply Shrinking but More Money Requested [Weapon Destruction]
Posted on 05/24/2007 11:48:18 AM PDT by Sleeping Beauty
While Congress and the Department of Homeland Security develop technologies protecting passenger planes from shoulder-fired missiles, the State and Defense departments are quietly taking the weapons off the international market.
The presidents fiscal 2008 budget request seeks to provide the State Department more money to destroy more weapons in more places. The goal is to minimize the chance of a terrorist using Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems, which are lightweight shoulder-fired heat-seeking missiles, against commercial and military aircraft.
The State Departments fiscal 2008 budget request includes $30 million to venture abroad and destroy more MANPADS and an additional $11.1 million to conduct operations related to other small arms, light weapons and conventional munitions. The $41.1 million request for fiscal 2008 marks a 362 percent increase from the $8.9 million allotted for fiscal 2007.
Since the State Departments program began in 2002, more than 22,000 MANPADS have been destroyed. The State Department and other stakeholders say that even more can be eliminated if more resources are made available.
In terms of reducing the terrorist threat from shoulder-fired missiles, no programs deliver more bang for the buck, said Matthew Schroeder, arms sales monitoring project manager at the Federation of American Scientists. On a combined budget of less than $10 million a year, these programs have secured and destroyed more than 22,000 missiles that might otherwise have ended up in the hands of terrorists. Show me another government program that has done as much with so little.
According to the State Department, more than 1 million MANPADS have been produced since the 1960s. Since many of them have since been used in training exercises and conflicts, and others have expired, it is difficult to put a precise number on those remaining, according to Richard G. Kidd, director of the State Departments Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.
Nevertheless, the department calculates that up to 50,000 MANPADS of greatest concern are still out there and a larger budget would go a long way toward reducing that number.
The State Departments Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement has received a large amount of support from the Department of Defense.
The Defense Departments Defense Threat Reduction Agency often acts to assess a countrys small arms and light weapons stockpiles and then makes recommendations to create a more secure armory or weapons depot. DTRA also provides host countries with weeklong seminars conducted by two- or three-member teams to teach principals of physical security and stockpile management.
During the seminar, that is when they learn that they should store this with that and maybe they should destroy some stuff, and that is where the State Department comes in, said Suzanne McGuire, program manager of the DTRA small arms and light weapons program. [Also] when we go in and see a stockpile and we see a lot of MANPADS there, we will ask if they are interested in disabling the MANPADS and we will coordinate that with the State Department.
McGuire would not comment on the fiscal 2008 budget request DTRA will put forth, but said stakeholders know there is a lot more work to be done.
We have a very good partnership with the Department of State and we have been able to work very well together when we go into countries, McGuire added. We have been in Africa recently . . . Africa is really a region that [the Defense Department] and the State Department have paid a lot of attention to and we are doing some really, really good things there and they have been extremely receptive.
One of the keys to making more countries receptive to working with the State and Defense departments is showing them what they have to lose, Kidd said.
When Arkia Airlines Flight 582 out of Mombasa, Kenya, was nearly shot down by a MANPADS wielding attacker in November 2002, the country lost approximately one quarter of its tourist revenue.
If there is a MANPADS attack in a state, it will set back their economic interests significantly, Kidd said.
Furthermore, if a shoulder-fired missile involved in a catastrophic attack is traced back to another country, that state runs the risk of becoming a pariah in the international community, he added.
We need to convince states that MANPADS are a liability and not an asset, Kidd said.
The State Department typically pays the costs related to destroying MANPADS and other weapons as well as building new weapons depot facilities. But sometimes more money often in the form of military assistance or other economic cooperation has to be used to convince less willing countries to agree to destroy and secure weapons.
While efforts to destroy MANPADS continue, so do efforts to develop technologies to safeguard aircraft from shoulder-fired missile attacks.
Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., and Melissa Bean, D-Ill., two weeks ago introduced a bill providing $75 million to install and test anti-missile technology on at least 20 turbo jet aircraft in the civil reserve air fleet over a two-year period.
The Northrop Grumman Corp. technology, known as the Guardian System, is an external pod attached to the belly of an aircraft to scan in all directions for incoming missiles. If an incoming projectile is detected, the systems turret fires an infrared laser at the missile to disrupt its guidance systems and send the weapon off target.
I think there is a growing recognition that we need a multi-layered set of defenses, said Israel. You have got to take these things off the street, but there are 700,000 of them on the streets right now. The best-intended State Department programs to remove them from the streets arent going to remove them all. You have to work it at both ends.
But at a cost of approximately $1 million per aircraft, the Guardian System has not won much support from the commercial aviation industry.
Roger McGinnis, director of innovation for the Department of Homeland Securitys Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate, on Tuesday told an audience his agency has met resistance from the airline industry over the aircraft-mounted anti-Manpad devices.
S&T is currently preparing to test unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to see if they can be outfitted with infrared lasers to guard airfields from MANPADS attacks.
The venture, known as Project Chloe, aims to find an economically viable method for safeguarding airline flights from lightweight shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missiles.
Other options could include ground-based defense systems.
We believe that there needs to be risk analysis built into the decisions of government as it is looking at this type of technology, said David Castelveter, vice president of communications at the Air Transport Association. We think more effort can be spent on perimeter security, even using unmanned aerial vehicles. It goes without saying that much can be done to try to get these types of weapons out of the hands of bad guys.
We put a lot of these into the hands of the Taliban, when they were fighting the Soviets. Now we want them back.
Most of them (probably 999 out of 1000) don’t work any more. If they did, they would already have been used against us. I’d be more worried about the Soviet/Russian versions that they *still* sell to just about anyone with money.
THe older Soviet/Russian ones have problems targetting anything, but the newer ones are relatively capable.
They have expressed a willingness to send the missiles back to us.
They want to trade them in for the latest version? lol
Nope they want to send just the missile part.
One at a time...
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