Concerns About Missiles Persist

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Onboard systems help military aircraft to anticipate and avoid attacks from missiles, and in this post-9/11 era, efforts are mounting to quickly transfer that technology to the civilian realm. The FAA reauthorization act now in the works would create (in Sec. 427) a task force to hasten that process. Underscoring the urgency, The New York Times reported last Wednesday that the U.S. government several weeks ago secretly dispatched teams overseas to investigate the dangers of shoulder-fired heat-seeking missiles at civilian airports. Teams have been sent to Greece, the Philippines, Iraq, and elsewhere in Europe and Asia, the Times said. The task force proposed by the FAA bill would comprise members drawn from the Department of Transportation, the FAA, the Department of Defense, NASA, and aircraft manufacturers. The group would report to Congress within a year. The Times also reported last week that the Department of Homeland Security will open a special office to deal with the missile threat, and has asked Congress for $2 million in support. Two missiles fired from the ground narrowly missed an Israeli passenger jet in Kenya last November.