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Commercial Aviation, The Threat from Shoulder-Fired Missiles and Potential Counter-Measures: An Update

Recorded on December 9, 2005

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

According to State Department estimates, shoulder-fired missiles have downed twenty-five airplanes and killed over 600 people since the 1970s. Although such anti-aircraft weapons - termed man-portable, air defense systems (MANPADS) - are stockpiled by most governments around the world, including the United States, for defensive purposes, they are also a favorite among terrorist groups. Relatively inexpensive and easy to transport and conceal, MANPADS pose a real threat to passenger, commercial, and military aircraft around the globe. The question, then, is, after pouring billions of dollars into improving airline security procedures, how is the U.S. now prepared to respond? What are the policies and technologies being developed to counter MANPADS? Is a plane-based device or a ground-based system the best defense? What are the barriers to the implementation of defensive systems? Join us as our experts analyze how to confront the homeland security threat posed by MANPADS in the hands of terrorists.