Airliner Missile Defense Systems Tested

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BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman have been working to build systems that could defend airliners from shoulder-fired missiles, and last week both companies successfully tested their designs in flight. An American Airlines 767 outfitted with BAE's Jeteye system flew from Fort Worth, Texas, while Grumman's Guardian system was tested Wednesday on an MD-11 that took off from Mojave Airport in California, The Associated Press reported Friday. Both systems use lasers to jam the guidance systems of incoming missiles. Government contracts call for the systems to cost less than $1 million each and to be easier to maintain and more reliable than military versions now in service. The impetus to develop the systems has come from Congress, while the airlines are less enthused, concerned about cost and maintenance issues. "It's a huge expenditure of resources to deal with one type of threat," John Meanen, executive vice president for the Air Transport Association, told the AP. "We have to ask, 'Are there better ways of doing this?'"