Air defense is a cumbersome business, except when it comes to manpad (man-portable) surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). These weapons were made famous by the service of the American Stinger missile in Afghanistan, although the weapon predates the arrival of the Stinger by almost 15 years. These weapons, short-ranged and mostly heat-seeking, are deadly to helicopters and represent the handiest air defense weapon around. It is becoming increasingly common to combine several tubes of these missiles with an autocannon into a relatively cheap truck-mounted anti-aircraft system. In any future conflict between India and Pakistan, or even between India and well-armed Pakistani proxies, these missiles will pose a serious threat to low flying ground attack planes and helicopters. Indeed, they have already been put to use in the 1999 Kargil War India The main manpad system of India is the Russian-made SA-18, introduced in 1983. These are armed with a contact or close proximity fused 2.6 lbs warhead, and the overall system weighs 24 lbs. They have a ceiling of 11,000 feet, a 3.2 mile range, and a top speed of Mach 2. They use a two-color heat sensor, and an earlier version of this missile successfully shot down a Royal Air Force Tornado in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. That version, the SA-16, was believed to have a 1 in 4 chance of hitting an evading target using IR countermeasures, such as flares. The SA-18's kill probability is unknown, except that it is widely agreed to be better. There are some SA-16s and the even older SA-7 Grails still in the inventory, but these have been almost completely replaced by the modern SA-18. Pakistan Pakistan also has quite a few old manpad SAMs, such as the Soviet-era SA-7 Grail and the US counterpart, the Redeye. Their principal modern manpad SAM is the Stinger. First introduced in 1981, it is the single most successful missile of its type, reporting over 270 kills. It saw some service during the 1999 Kargil War. The Stinger has a 6.6 lbs warhead and overall weighs 33.2 pounds. It has a 3 mile range, a ceiling of 12,500 feet, and a top speed of Mach 2.2. The warhead uses a contact fuse, and the Pakistani version is reputed to have an improved IR seeker. RESULTS: PAKISTAN WINS! This is one instance where the old Indian reliance on Russian-made weapons does them serious disservice. The SA-18 is great in the two categories its design has in mind: low weight. It is markedly lighter easier to carry. In theory, that means a foot-mobile unit could carry more of them. However, for a motorized or mechanized unit, or in a light anti-aircraft vehicle mounting, this is a negligible consideration. The Stinger, on the other hand outscores the SA-18 in every category of performance. It has a bigger warhead, and can fly faster, further, and higher. It also has a spectacular combat record. Source:Global security.