El Al Deploying Anti-Missile Defense on Civilian Plane
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El Al is now installing an anti-missile system onto one of its Boeing jets. If it works, the system will be rolled out to six other aircraft, and eventually the entire fleet. The Flight Guard system, developed by Israel Military Industries (IMI) and Elta Systems costs about $1 million per plane. The system is designed for very low false alarm rates, and relative ease of installation on various kinds of aircraft.
Israel’s small size, and the range of missiles that could be launched from hostile Palestinian territories, led to a premium on effectiveness during takeoff and landing. Flight Guard includes a Missile Approach Warning System, which rapidly scans for potential threats in the area surrounding the aircraft, and raises an alert only when it detects a direct threat to the aircraft. Upon detection of a direct threat, a jamming system immediately deploys decoy flares to steer any threatening heat-seeking missiles away from the aircraft and toward the decoy flares. The flares for the civilian version were redesigned to be both larger and invisible to human eyes in order to prevent panic in cabins if passengers see the outgoing flares. IMI is trying to get FAA permits to allow the product to be used with American carriers as well.
The technology has been used on Israel military planes for a long time. The addition to civilian aircraft comes after a November 2002 incident in which missiles were fired unsuccessfully at an Arkia plane in Mombasa, Kenya…
Sept 16/09: IAI’s ELTA Systems Ltd. announces a contract to supply Flight Guard for commercial planes in Israel, noting that FlightGuard is the only system to be tested and authorized by the Israel Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA). The “Flight Guard” system will be delivered within one year, and additional orders for the system are expected upon completion of the current order.
The release adds that over 200 military, civilian, and VIP aircraft in more than 15 countries worldwide currently fly with military or civilian versions of ELTA’s protection system.
2005: A version of “Flight Guard” is authorized by the Israel Civil Aviation Authority, after 2 years of in-depth inspections, flight tests, and licensing examinations.
Dec 6/04: Ha’aretz: El Al to start installing anti-missile system on planes