Thursday, August 5, 2010

Leaked reports confirm SAM launches against ISAF aircraft

Classified reports released by the web site Wikileaks - which have caused a furore in the United States - indicate that heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) have been used by insurgents against coalition forces in Afghanistan, a situation that operators in theatre had hitherto declined to confirm.

The US Department of Defense has yet to confirm the authenticity of the reports (more than 92,000 of them were leaked) and will not comment on the information until its assessments are complete.

Analysis of the documents - which are mostly tactical-level reports classified as 'secret' - reveal numerous incidents in which insurgent forces engaged International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) aircraft with man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADS).

ISAF forces to date have only sparingly acknowledged that MANPADS weapons are used against their aircraft in Afghanistan, but these anecdotal field reports appear to show this threat to be present there, if only occasionally effective.

Notably, one of the reports from May 2007 recounted an incident in which a CH-47D Chinook cargo helicopter was shot down by a suspected MANPADS - killing all on board - and two AH-64D Apache attack helicopters responding to the strike were also targeted by MANPADS missiles.

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