Iraqi and U.S. air patrols now have to contend with the possibility that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have sophisticated surface-to-air missile launchers, or Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (Manpads). ISIS has released a video apparently showing a militant with a Chinese-made FN-6 launcher shooting down an Iraqi helicopter in northern Iraq, and ISIS claims to have shot down several other Iraqi copters.
Most U.S. fighter jets are out of range of even the most advanced Madpads, but the Apache gunships the U.S. has started deploying in some circumstances may be at risk, as are Iraqi attack and surveillance helicopters. There's also concern about commercial and military aircraft landing and taking off at Baghdad's heavily guarded airport, a crucial logistical hub for U.S. forces. "Based on past conflicts," an unidentified senior American military told The New York Times, the Manpads "are game changers out there." The State Department has a helpful guide to Manpads and the threats they pose.