Protecting Civil Aviation from MANPADS Attacks: New Milestone Reached

Media Note
Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 23, 2009

Date: 06/01/2009 Description: A foreign affairs officer in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs displays a foreign Man-Portable Air Defense System missile in its tube that has been prepared carefully for destruction--one of the 30,000 MANPADS that the U.S. has helped other countries destroy since 2003.  © Photo by Dave Diaz, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement
The United States in close cooperation with 29 countries has destroyed over 30,000 foreign, at-risk Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) since 2003, thus potentially preventing these weapons – commonly referred to as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles – from falling into the hands of arms traffickers, criminals, and terrorists who could threaten civil aviation.

The threat posed by MANPADS to civil aviation is real. Forty civilian aircraft have been hit by these missiles since the 1970s. A total of 859 deaths resulted from these attacks.

The United States salutes the countries that have worked cooperatively to reduce their excess, aging stocks of MANPADS. The United States encourages all nations to voluntarily reduce the MANPADS and other conventional weapons that are not essential to their defense needs, and to reduce their old and unstable munitions.

The U.S. Department of State appreciates the assistance of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Transportation Security Administration, Organization of American States, NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Regional Center on Small Arms in Kenya, and other international organizations for their vital collaboration on MANPADS threat reduction initiatives to make the world’s skies safer for airline passengers and international aviation.

As part of the U.S. Government’s inter-agency threat reduction response to the misuse of these light, easily concealed weapons, the Transportation Security Administration has since 2003 conducted 33 “Assist Visits” to airports in 26 countries in order to help the host nations identify vulnerabilities to potential MANPADS attacks, at a cost of approximately $500,000.

Since 2001, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs has invested over $113 million to help destroy 1.3 million small arms and other conventional weapons around the world, including these more than 30,000 MANPADS. In fiscal year 2009, the Bureau’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement is investing approximately $130 million to destroy MANPADS and other conventional weapons, and to conduct humanitarian mine action in a continuous effort to make the world safer.

Visit to learn more about the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement’s conventional weapons destruction and humanitarian mine action programs.

PRN: 2009/770