Airliner Missile Defenses Studied


Development Contracts Set…

Airliners could soon be packing heat, the missile-confusing type, that is. The Bush administration is pressing ahead with studies to see if commercial airliners can be economically and effectively fitted with anti-missile defenses. The White House announced Tuesday that two airplane companies and an airline will be paid $2 million each over six months to assess the viability of such a plan. BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and United Air Lines were selected from a total of 24 submissions. They will focus their work on adapting existing military systems to airliners, said Charles McQueary, the Homeland Security Department’s undersecretary for science and technology. There’s already an example for companies to study. The Boeing 747 that usually serves as Air Force One is equipped with a military-style laser system that blinds incoming missiles. Last month a civilian cargo plane carrying mail to U.S. troops was hit by a missile as it took off from Baghdad Airport. It was able to make a safe emergency landing after reportedly losing all hydraulic power. Last Thanksgiving two missiles narrowly missed an Israeli airliner taking off in Kenya.