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How to avoid a manpad in aheavy airliner?

Last post 12-06-2004, 12:09 PM by KenV. 5 replies.
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  •  12-27-2003, 12:51 PM 2407

    How to avoid a manpad in aheavy airliner?

    I would like to know:

    What is the best action to be taken if a manpad SAM is approaching your heavy jet ( as in Bagdad the A300 of DHL) ?

    In my opinion the best way to escape is to fly as fast as possible and as low as posssible.

    Is that correct?
  •  12-02-2004, 3:32 PM 2706 in reply to 2407

    Re: How to avoid a manpad in aheavy airliner?

    If you mean avoid one after it is fired at you, forget it.  Turning downward and toward the incoming missile is generally the preferred method if it is already on the way, but a large airliner cannot really maneuver quickly enough nor aggressively enought to make a difference.  If it's already been fired at you and you're in an airliner, pray.  Maybe it will misguide.  The SA-7 "Grail" (the most common missile in terrorist hands) has a fairly low PsubK (Probability of Kill), which is further reduced by the poorly trained terrorists operating it.  It is strictly a tail-chase weapon with a very narrow field of view and a low angular tracking rate, so the operator really needs to know his stuff to expect success.

    It it's a Stinger, or a Bofors RBS 70, or a British Starstreak, Starburst, or Javelin, just bend over and kiss your sorry butt good bye.

    If you mean avoid one before it is fired at you, there are a number of options.  If the manpad operator is not expecting you, the "as low as possible and as fast as possible" approach is generally best.  If he's sitting at the end of the runway as he sees you taxiing out and then taking off so he's fully ready for you, and he's expecting you to overfly his position, your best bet may be to level off shortly after rotating, cleaning up the aircraft and accelerating, and also turning hard either to the left or right so he never gets a view of your engines' exhaust nozzle.


    Ken V.
  •  12-03-2004, 10:49 AM 2709 in reply to 2407

    Re: How to avoid a manpad in aheavy airliner?

    Obviously the best thing would be to fly well above their max reachable altitude Big Smile
  •  12-03-2004, 1:46 PM 2713 in reply to 2709

    Re: How to avoid a manpad in aheavy airliner?

    That works in non-mountainous terrain.  In Afghanistan, flying above the manpad threat in many areas means flying well above 30,000 feet.

    And if the manpad is sitting around an airport, staying out of range above him is impossible.
    Ken V.
  •  12-03-2004, 3:38 PM 2719 in reply to 2713

    Re: How to avoid a manpad in aheavy airliner?

     KenV wrote:
    That works in non-mountainous terrain.  In Afghanistan, flying above the manpad threat in many areas means flying well above 30,000 feet.


    And what is the problem with that? The A300 has a service ceiling of 40,000 feet and the very highest mountains in afghanistan are around 21-22,000 feet. Anyway it is highly unlikely a raghead is going to be sitting on a mountain top hoping for a lucky shot Cool  Aruond airports like you also mention is a lot more likely.
  •  12-06-2004, 12:09 PM 2725 in reply to 2719

    Re: How to avoid a manpad in aheavy airliner?

    >>"The A300 has a service ceiling of 40,000 feet and the very highest mountains in afghanistan are around 21-22,000 feet"<<

    Tue enough.  Unless you're not in an A300 but in a C-130 which has a much more limited ceiling.

    >>"Anyway it is highly unlikely a raghead is going to be sitting on a mountain top hoping for a lucky shot"<<

    Maybe, maybe not.  C-17's doing airdrops in Afghanistan did them from ABOVE 28,000 feet.  Depressurizing at that altitude is quite dangerous.  No other large aircraft other than the C-17 is designed to do it and even then, the crews were exposed to significant risks.  In considering the risks, the USAF chose the risk of depressurization over the risk of a stray raghead with a manpad.

    And some operations other than just landing or taking off from an airport require large aircraft to go low, within range of the manpad.  Personnel airdrops is the most obvious.  Heavy equipment drops is another.

    The bottom line is that sometimes big airplanes have no choice but to put themselves within range of a manpad.  But absent those operational constraints, the best defense against manpads is indeed lots of altitude.
    Ken V.
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