40 civilian airliners downed with missiles ?

U.S. officials see MANPADS as threat 2nd only to nukes

It's a threat that doesn't get much ink.

But U.S. elected officials of both parties, along with intelligence analysts and defense experts, agree that the second most feared weapon in the arsenal of terrorists � after nuclear weapons � is the MANPAD, the shoulder-fired missile that can take out a commercial airliner loaded with hundreds of civilians.

U.S. government sources estimate there are as many as 750,000 man-portable air-defense systems in arsenals worldwide � with as many as 500,000 virtually unaccounted for.

In the case of these weapons, it's not a question of if they will be used or when. According to U.S. government officials citing the latest intelligence briefings more than 40 civilian aircraft have already been attacked with such weapons in the last 30 years.

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