Israeli Airliners Have Missile Defense

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As AVweb told you in January, Israeli government-owned defense contractors have come up with a retrofit missile defense system for airliners and they didn't fool around putting it to use. The national airline El Al now carries the Flight Guard system on each of its 29 aircraft. It took three years to develop and certify the system, partly due to consideration for perhaps less security-conscious countries' concerns regarding the possibility of an El Al aircraft on approach launching conventional magnesium flares over (or into) densely populated areas. Flight Guard uses infrared-emitting flares that are presumably less likely to start fires. There's no official word from the FAA on the system but El Al continues to operate flights from LAX, O'Hare, JFK and Miami. Although the system's certification was announced with some fanfare, now that it's operational the airline refuses to discuss it, citing security regulations. Web sites that used to describe the system in some detail appear to have been removed. The systems cost about $1 million per installation and consist of the flare launchers and multiple antennae spread throughout the aircraft to detect incoming missiles. The systems are specifically designed to protect against man-portable air defense systems (shoulder-launched missiles) that have proliferated among terrorist groups all over the world.