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Some US Passenger Flights To Get Missile Defense

The USA Today reports that NY-to-CA non-stop flight passenger jets are getting anti-missile systems to defend against terrorist attacks via shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, or ManPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense Systems).

Tens of thousands of airline passengers will soon be flying on jets outfitted with anti-missile systems as part of a new government test aimed at thwarting terrorists armed with shoulder-fired projectiles.

Three American Airlines Boeing 767-200s that fly daily round-trip routes between New York and California will receive the anti-missile laser jammers this spring, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which is spending $29 million on the tests.

Jets will fly with the jammer device mounted on the belly of the plane, between the wheels. The device works with sensors, also mounted on the plane, that detect a heat-seeking missile and shoot a laser at it to send the missile veering harmlessly off course.

There will be testing, but none of the testing (once installed) will involve firing missiles, lest passengers fear they could be shot down in a test. The system has already been tested on similar cargo aircraft.