FedEx is asking the FAA to allow it to install anti-missile infrared lasers on its Airbus A321-200 cargo aircraft and the agency has laid out conditions for the modification. FedEx applied for the approval three years ago. It had previously worked with Northrop Grumman 10 years earlier on anti-missile defenses but the current application doesn’t name a supplier for the system. The laser system would send a high intensity beam of infrared energy toward a missile to confuse its tracking system. The system is specifically designed to thwart attacks from man portable air defense systems (MANPADS).
In a notice that is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 18, the agency says there are some safeguards that must be in place before it can approve the mods. The system must be able to be disabled when the aircraft is on the ground and in maintenance. It also has to be designed so it doesn’t damage the airplane or really anything other than the incoming missile. The system will also have to be placarded and fully documented for operation and maintenance. If it approves FedEx’s application, it will only apply to the A321-200 and modification of other types will require going through the whole process.