This paper has been written as a key note address and backdrop to the 2005 SPIE Technologies for Optical Countermeasures II Conference. The paper uses as a topic the problem of protecting civil aircraft from the Man Portable Air Defence missile Systems (MANPADS).
The paper examines the economic background of the airline industry and the effects such a successful attack could have. It then addresses the various motives, means, and opportunities that the terrorists have to use MANPADS to progress attacks against civil aircraft.
In reviewing the various mitigation options available to defeat or deny MANPAD engagements, the paper identifies key technology areas available for exploitation. It then focuses on the optical countermeasure technologies used in providing aircraft platform self protection. Finally, the paper summarises and concludes that whilst a lot has and can be done to militate against the MANPAD threat there is not yet an exportable, affordable and robust countermeasures technology for large scale commercial systems and operations.