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17.4.2021 : 23:29 : +0200

Armed groups' holdings of guided light weapons

Although many armed groups possess guided weapons, such as man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) and anti-tank guided weapons (ATGWs), few of them possess sophisticated vehicle-mounted systems—like the SA-11—capable of targeting airliners at cruising altitudes.

Since 1998 at least 59 non-state armed groups from 37 countries are known to have possessed guided light weapons systems, posing a significant international security threat.

These light weapons systems—which include MANPADS and ATGWs—can be operated by a single user or a small crew, who can steer the missiles towards their target after launch.

The Small Arms Survey Research Note ‘Armed Groups’ Holdings of Guided Light Weapons’ explains the challenge facing the international community and provides an overview of the weapons possessed by non-state groups worldwide, and pays special attention to their types of guidance and relative sophistication.

While the Research Note does not quantify specific weapons holdings, information on specific armed groups’ holdings is available on the Small Arms Survey website. The database on armed groups’ arsenals of guided weapons has recently been updated, showing that at least 36 (and possibly as many as 57) active armed groups currently possess guided light weapons.

An earlier Research Note 'Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS)' provides a brief overview of these weapons’ history and development, and lists incidents where MANPADS have been used in attacks on civilian aircraft.


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