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    The days of infantrymen being impotent sitting-duck targets for ground-attack aircraft are ending fast. First?

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    Background: The days of infantrymen being impotent sitting-duck targets for ground-attack aircraft are ending fast. First test firings from the shoulder have now been made of the Short Blowpipe man-carried supersonic anti-aircraft guided weapon. The first photographs and slow motion cin????? film of the quick-off-the-mark Blowpipe being fired from the shoulder are released today.

    Now the subject of a Ministry of Technology contract (the project began as a company private venture), Blowpipe is the latest project of the same Shorts' team at Castlereagh, Belfast, which developed Seacat and Tigercat. These two missile systems have now netted GBP17.5 million of export business, with more under negotiation, and Seacat is standard equipment with 14 of the world's navies. The Seacat family - which now includes the air-launched Hellcat, shown in the static park with a Westland Wasp - are Britain's best-selling missiles. Shorts' guided missile team has twice won the Queen's Award, one for technical innovation and the other for export achievement.

    Blowpipe uses the same well-proven radio command-link guidance techniques as the Seacat family. It is fired from a hand-held launching canister to which the sighting unit and controlling thumb-stick are attached. The weight of the entire system - missile, launcher and sight - is only 40lb.

    Blowpipe can be used effectively against surface targets as well as aircraft. No difficulty is foreseen in applying Blowpipe to seaborne use, as a 'carry aboard' weapon for small surface vessels, or on submarines. From the latter it would be fired at periscope depth.

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