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SOURCE:  JATIN RAM / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Russian Aircraft losses over Ukraine appear to have been downed by man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), including the U.S. Stinger or Russian Igla systems. Heat-seeking short-range weapons that are rarely effective beyond 10,000 to 15,000 feet. That makes them more useful against helicopters, and less against modern warplanes which can fly up to 40,000 feet high.

But lack of precision-guided ammunition forced the Russian air force to fly low specially Su-25 and Su-35 Strike aircraft that are optimized for ground attack role and seems to have suffered at least a dozen confirmed kills making up only these two types. MANPADs indeed have also scored a lot of kills on advanced attack helicopters like Ka-52 and older Mi-25s, but helicopters attrition is on expected lines and not unusual in a war since they continue to remain the most venerable aerial objects in a war, but jet losses are highlighting how a million-dollar system can cheaply take a 60 million dollar jet out of the sky.

DRDO is working on MPDMS (Man-Portable Defensive Missile System) which will be the world’s first to have a direct link with the Air defense network by including a Data Link (ADML) system, which will bring isolated man-portable air-man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD) operators into a networked environment.

MPDMS can be Game Changer just because the operator is much more aware of the jet or the helicopter that is on his way before he can spot it and not only that he along with a few others on the ground can coordinate their attacks in such a way that it can hit a high flying target.

MPDMS can force rivals to rely on standoff strikes with expensive cruise missiles and imprecise high altitude bombing to avoid the MANPADS threat but its no substitute or medium and long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries, we need to fast track deployment of Akash-NG and MRSAM which will be doing bulk of the damages and also be at the receiving end of counter strikes to neutralize them.

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