A New Age for Aerostats: Proving Airfield-Centric MANPADS Defense for Civil Aircraft Supporting Military Operations
Air Command and Staff College Maxwell Air Force Base United States
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Both the U.S. and its allies have increasingly relied upon civilian transport aircraft, such as the Civil Reserve Air Fleet CRAF, to augment organic military airlift. However, the widespread proliferation of Man Portable Air Defense Systems MANPADS poses a significant threat to unprotected civilian aircraft. Previous research focused on installing the militarys counter-MANPADS systems, such as Infrared Countermeasures IRCM, on civilian aircraft. However, the unique CRAF operating environment makes such an aircraft-centric approach economically unfeasible. Instead, future counter-MANPADS programs should shift focus from protecting individual aircraft to an area-wide system that protects entire airfields. Aerostats possess unique capabilities that enable them to provide an area-wide counter-MANPADS defense using existing IRCM technology.