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Potential MANPADS threat in Central Asia. (EC Monitor: DD(x) on the Spot).

As US Special Forces enter Georgia to help train that nation's defense forces in the War on Terrorism, the proliferation of man-portable air-defense systems (MAN PADS) to Chechen rebels may wind up posing a threat to US aircraft in Central Asia.

During special operations sweeps in late March and early April, the Russians discovered "several" Igla missile systems in a cache in the Vedeno district. Russian Federal Security Service representative Alexander Zdanovich said that Arab mercenaries operating in Chechnya were getting these weapons systems from Georgia. In late March, Georgian State Security Minister Valeri Khaburdzania theorized that those weapons were sold to Chechen rebels from someone at the Russian military base in Akhalkalaki, southern Georgia. Georgian Defense Ministry issued a statement in April. denying Russian officials' accusations that Georgia supplied weapons to Chechen rebels and claiming that Georgia had no Igla missiles.

The Igla MANPADS is a highly pilferable item on the Russian black market. A 26-year-old heroin addict was arrested in St. Petersburg in March with one. The man claimed to have found the operational missile launcher at a firing range near the Aleksandrovskaya railway station and was keeping it in his dacha to show his buddies.

The Russians remained convinced that the Chechen rebels had surface-to-air missiles and that rebel leaders continued to promise their subordinates $50,000 for every federal aircraft they could shoot down. The Igla system is not very effective against Soviet/Russian aircraft unless its IFF (Identification Friend-or-Foe) interrogators are rewired to recognize these as threats. Against US forces, however, they should work as designed.

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Author:Geibel, Adam
Publication:Journal of Electronic Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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