Ukraine Incident Revives Calls For Anti-Missile Gear

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The U.S. should study whether passenger jets should be equipped with anti-missile gear, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said last week. The FAA, the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security should work together to explore the options, they said. The lawmakers cited the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 above the Ukraine, as well as the rocket fire in Israel cited by the FAA when it recently prohibited U.S. flights to and from Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, as justification for action. "The more planes we can outfit with anti-missile technology, the safer we will be," Rep. Israel said. "Iím sounding the alarm and asking the airline industry and other stakeholders to work with me to find a sensible solution."

In a statement released July 25, Rep. Israel said there are estimated to be several thousand shoulder-fired surface-to-air†missile systems in the hands of terrorists and other "non-state actors" around the world. Sen. Schumer said that since 1973, at least 30 civilian aircraft have been downed by shoulder-fired missiles around the world, killing about 920 people. The interest in such protection is not new. In 2005, a Rand Corp. study found it would cost $11 billion to equip the U.S. airline fleet with systems to guard against attacks from shoulder-fired missiles.