from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 86
August 3, 2006

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The potential threat to commercial aircraft from hostile use of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles (Man Portable Air Defense Systems, or MANPADS) still does not have a satisfactory technological solution, the Department of Homeland Security said in a new report to Congress.

"It is feasible to transition selected military [defense] technology to the commercial aviation environment, but it is challenging from a logistics, cost, export control, and, to some extent, from a liability perspective," the DHS report said.

"Additional design, development, test, and actual operation [of counter-MANPADS technology] in the commercial environment is needed to improve reliability, reduce drag and weight, incorporate technology protection, [and] enhance producibility...."

See "Department of Homeland Security Counter-MANPADS Program Summary, Report to Congress Detailing Phases I and II Findings of the Counter-MANPADS Program," DHS Science and Technology Directorate, July 2006.

[Update 08/11/06: At the request of the Department of Homeland Security, this report has been taken off-line.]

The new DHS assessment, which has not previously been made available to the public, was first reported by the Associated Press.

See "Airline Anti-Missile System Years Away" by Leslie Miller, Associated Press, July 31:

Extensive background on MANPADS proliferation prepared by Matthew Schroeder of the FAS Arms Sales Monitoring Project is available here:

"Congress needs to keep in mind that onboard anti-missile systems are not a panacea; they only protect planes from a small sub-category of threats, and provide no protection for Americans flying on foreign airliners that aren't equipped with the systems," Mr. Schroeder said. "If Congress goes this route, they need to redouble non- and counter-proliferation efforts."


Numerous new reports of the Congressional Research Service on subjects of public interest and concern have been issued lately. Yet by design, they are not made readily available to the public. They include the following.

"The Department of Defense Rules for Military Commissions: Analysis of Procedural Rules and Comparison with Proposed Legislation and the Uniform Code of Military Justice," updated July 25, 2006:

"Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: Military Commissions in the 'Global War on Terrorism'," July 6, 2006:

"Military Tribunals: Historical Patterns and Lessons," July 9, 2004:

"Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses," updated July 31, 2006:

"Israeli-Arab Negotiations: Background, Conflicts, and U.S. Policy," updated July 25, 2006:

"Lebanon," updated July 24, 2006:

"European Approaches to Homeland Security and Counterterrorism," July 24, 2006:

"China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues," updated July 17, 2006:

"Banning Fissile Material Production for Nuclear Weapons: Prospects for a Treaty (FMCT)," July 14, 2006:

"North Korean Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States," updated July 6, 2006:

"International Small Arms and Light Weapons Transfers: U.S. Policy," updated June 27, 2006:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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