Armed groups' holdings of guided light weapons (Research Note 31)

Christelle Rigual
Research Note

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 (2013).

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.

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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Keywords: MANPADS Armed groups