90 percent of all aircraft losses in the last 15 years are due to Man Portable Air Defence System (MANPADS) missiles.
Rotor & Wings magazine reported that during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, 12 of the 29 American aircraft lost during combat operation are believed to have been shot down by Iraqi SA-16 Iglas. The Russians have suffered even more from MANPADS in their battles in Afganistan with losses of more than 250 aircraft to Stinger, and more recently in Chechnya.
Passenger aircraft have also faced a threat from terrorists armed with MANPADS. A few examples are;
“The aircraft crashed into the jungle after the rear engine was hit by a missile fired by Tutsi rebel forces shortly after the plane took off from Kindu Airport bound for Kinshasa.”
“Shot down by rebels while climbing after takeoff.”
“Crashed into the sea. Shot down by Abkhazi separatist rebels”.
Since September 11, the terrorism threat has become much more substantial. In addition, the proliferation of MANPADS missiles all around the world makes this a threat that cannot be discounted.
In order to protect a platform against MANPADS, the aircraft should be equipped with a protection suite that includes Missile Warning System and countermeasures equipment. The countermeasures implemented shall conform to commercial aviation standards and the limitations of the environments in which they will operate.
The primary driver for countermeasures requirements is the aircraft IR signature on which the missile’s seeker acquires and “locks-on” to the target. The variation in signatures from one aircraft to the next can be immense. A program office at Wright Patterson AFB asserted that if a helicopter (AH-64) has an IR signature of 1, a turboprop transport (C-130) would be 10, a tactical fighter (F-16) would be 35, and a large jet transport (C-17) would be 100. The IR output of a jammer is often specified as a multiple of the aircraft signature.