American Airlines Tests Missile Defense

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American Airlines has agreed to have three of its operational Boeing 767s outfitted with missile defense systems. According to The Press Association, the installation, on passenger-carrying aircraft that normally fly between New York and San Francisco, is the last phase of a trial by BAE Systems to protect airliners from missiles, particularly shoulder-launched weapons that could be used against aircraft landing and taking off. BAE won a TSA contract for the program and has been working with American Airlines on the project for a couple of years but this will be the first time they've been put on airplanes in regular service. With BAE's system, when sensors detect the incoming missile, a belly-mounted laser is activated to disrupt the heat-sensing electronics in the missile's guidance system. The system will not be tested with passengers on board. That's already been done with empty airliners. Rather, the systems are being installed to see if they can withstand the rigors of regular passenger service and to see how much of a fuel penalty they exact.