Monday, April 24, 2017

Another reason to avoid flying, if possible

There are well-grounded fears that some of Venezuela's latest-generation man-portable surface-to-air missiles might get into the wrong hands.

The Venezuelan government’s decision to arm civilians to defend the country’s socialist revolution amid growing unrest is rekindling fears of terrorists and criminal organizations acquiring part of the nation’s arsenal, which include a large stockpile of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles.

. . .

According to internal military documents obtained by el Nuevo Herald, over a number of years Venezuela has purchased several hundreds of the latest variant of the land-to-air missiles Igla-S, the Russian equivalent of the U.S.-made Stinger missile.

Caracas’ possession of the portable, infrared-homing Igla-S has been a source of concern in the U.S. for some time, given the socialist regime’s cozy relationship with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, groups classified as terrorist organizations by the U.S.

Those concerns had previously taken a back seat given repeated Russian assurances that those weapons would not fall into the wrong hands, according to State Department cables revealed by Wikileaks.

But Maduro renewed those fears last week after green-lighting the Zamora Plan — a readiness operation that calls for the activation of militias when facing an imminent threat of war — after thousands took to the streets in Venezuela to protest while accusing the Chavista leader of executing a self-coup.

The signing of the Zamora Plan gave the legal grounds to enact Maduro’s previous announcement that he would give rifles to 400,000 militias to protect his government from a coup that he said was planned in Washington.

The prospect of rogue groups obtaining the Igla-S is particularly frightening given its small size and effectiveness. Weighting only 24 pounds, the tube-like launcher could be relatively easy to smuggle across borders, and its 2.5 kilogram warhead can shoot down an airplane or helicopter from 3.7 miles away.

There's more at the link.

The Igla-S is far more advanced than the original Stinger missile, which dates back to the early 1980's.  The original Igla (known as the SA-16) is of similar vintage and performance to the US weapon;  I had the opportunity to compare them side by side in Angola during the mid to late 1980's.  However, it's been drastically improved - so much so that in its latest SA-24 guise, it's a brand new weapon.  It's probably the most advanced missile of its kind in the world.

With Hezbollah active in the Tri-Border area of South America, and also in Mexico, where it's cooperating with drug cartels, there's a real danger that these missiles might find their way northwards.  Couple that with Venezuela having supplied thousands of passports to potential Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in Syria and elsewhere, and we may have a security nightmare on our hands.

I think I'll be driving to future destinations, as much as possible.  I also predict that videoconferencing will probably replace a great deal of business travel, for security reasons.



Mark Matis said...

My understanding is that part of the Benghazi "event" was a transfer of weapons from the US (as in CIA) to Syrian ragheads. And that among the weapons transferred were some ManPADs. The intent was to have Ambassador Stevens "kidnapped" and then ransom him to give the terrorists more dinero. But the terrorists were a few steps ahead of our "leaders" and our "Intelligence" agencies "finest"...

Eric Wilner said...

Now, here's something I don't get: why aren't modern export-model ManPADs geo-locked? Build in GPS (GLONASS, whatever), if it's not there already, and have the firmware check the location against a map of the authorized zone of use, programmed in before shipment and protected by some sort of secure hash.
Re-export it to terrorists, they try to use it outside the authorized zone, and it refuses to launch, or even blows up in their faces.
This wouldn't be impossible to bypass, but it could be extremely inconvenient. And it seems like any country capable of producing these weapons would have an incentive to discourage their misuse.

Mark Matis said...

I believe that you misunderstand how this country's "Intelligence" services work, Eric Wilmer. My bet is that the CIA is arming terrorists around the globe. Your suggestion would put a significant crimp in their style.

Anonymous said...

In the early 2000s, there was an article in Business and Commercial Aviation about flying corporate jets in Africa (for non-African companies). The part about having a chaff launcher on a biz-jet (Citation, Gulfstream, not converted airliner) was rather eye-opening. Apparently the people on the ground didn't have to be actively angry at whoever was flying overhead, just bored, in order for them to fire something at the plane.

Old NFO said...

Anon is right... Sigh... And that is ONE of the dirty little secrets of the Bizjet world...

Quartermaster said...

There is now more reason to go into Venezuela than we had for going into Panama.