...Different Technologies Compared

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Northrop Grumman and BAE both supply military aircraft with laser systems that blind the heat-seeking sensor in the small shoulder-fired missiles that worry security officials the most. The United Air Lines bid would employ a missile-detection system and expendable decoys to divert the missiles. There are about 10 companies collaborating on the United bid. The initial $6 million in contracts is described as seed money by one military analyst but if the government decides to go ahead with the systems, the value could be staggering. In the U.S. alone, there are about 6,800 commercial airliners and it's estimated that each one would cost about $1 million to fit with a missile-defense system. The Israeli state airline El Al has reportedly already installed systems on some of its planes.