Most Osprey readers will be familiar with many books in the New Vanguard, Campaign, and Duel series. Many of my books deal with tank history, or World War II campaigns. But my day-to-day professional work deals with more contemporary weaponry. I am a senior analyst with Teal Group Corp., an aerospace research firm based in Fairfax, Virginia outside Washington DC. My principal work is to prepare Teal Group’s publication “World Missile Briefing.” This study is aimed at clients in government and industry, and you won’t find copies on the shelves of your local library. It surveys current missile programs worldwide, tracking their development, their manufacture, their sales to export clients, and future development and sales prospects. I first started covering the missile business back in 1984 with another company, DMS Inc., and started working for Teal Group in 1992.
With this background, you’d think that I would have written lots of missile books. But Osprey chooses new book titles based on their assessment of their sales potential. Most publishers feel that missile books don’t sell especially well, so there are relatively few books about missiles. As a result, I seldom propose to write missile books for Osprey. In this case, Osprey felt that a book about MANPADS (Man-portable Air Defense Systems) had sales potential, probably because these small missiles are often in the news, and are probably more interesting than the big air-defense missiles for many readers.
I have a vast library of research material on the subject that I’ve collected over three decades. I think that readers will find it eye-opening since much of the material in the book has never been seen in an unclassified publication before. For example, the book contains the first detailed history of the development of the famous SA-7 Grail, actually called the Strela-2 by its original Soviet designers. Besides covering the technical side of the story, I have also tried to cover the combat history of these weapons. I’ve focused on the more important instances of their use. So, in the case of the SA-7 Grail/Strela-2, I’ve covered their debut in the 1970 “War of Attrition” in the Mid-East, as well as their use in the concluding years of the Vietnam War. In the case of the US Stinger missile, I’ve devoted a lot of attention to its controversial use in Afghanistan in the 1980s against the Soviet Air Force. This is based both on US assessments of its combat use as well as Russian accounts.
This book is heavily illustrated in the usual Osprey fashion. Most of the photos are my own, taken at various international arms shows. I have been attending these shows for nearly fifty years, and have taken thousands of photos over the years. Some of these shows, such as the Paris Air Show and the Farnborough Air Show, are well known to the general public since they usually have a few public days. But many of the shows are only open to a professional audience, or are remote and expensive to attend such as the Moscow Air Show in Zhukovskiy, the IDEX show in Abu Dhabi, and Air Show China in Zhuhai. So, readers will be able to catch a glimpse of some of the weapons that are very seldom seen in public.
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