Report: Airliner Anti-Missile Systems Too Costly, Unreliable

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

It would cost $11 billion to equip the 6,800 airliners in the U.S. fleet with systems to guard against attacks from shoulder-fired missiles, according to a Rand Corporation study issued Tuesday. Operating the system would cost an additional $2.1 billion per year. And the laser systems now in use on military aircraft are too unreliable, the report said. False alarms are frequent, and terrorists might be able to find ways to circumvent the safeguards anyway. "Resources available for homeland security are limited, so we must strive to get the most benefit from our investments," said Michael Wermuth, director of Rand's homeland security program. "There may well be other strategy alternatives that could prove to be less expensive and considerably more effective."

Better tactics suggested by the report include expanding efforts to keep missiles out of terrorists' hands, improving security around the perimeter of airports and improving commercial airliners' ability to survive a missile strike. More than 700,000 of the missiles have been produced worldwide by a number of nations. Many thousands of the weapons are unaccounted for worldwide, including some U.S.-made missiles sent to Afghanistan to assist the mujahedin who battled against the occupation by the Soviet Union, according to the report. The complete report can be downloaded free at the Rand Corp. Web site.