Airliner Missile Defense

By Deane Barker on July 14, 2005

Airliners may get missile defenses: It’s been talked about a lot, but apparently this is actually going to happen.

The government will begin testing anti-missile equipment on three airliners next month, a first step toward what could be the most expensive security upgrade ever ordered for the nation’s aviation system.



  1. This is an inefficient way to achieve security. The intent is to protect airplanes from shoulder-fired missles. That type of missle (obviously) poses the greatest threat during takeoff and landing…in other words, when the plane is near an airport. It seems like it would be more cost-effective to install anti-missle devices at airports to protect those planes (there are far fewer airports than there are airplanes!).

  2. In addition to the comment above, is there any proof that such point-defense systems work? I’m not sure that the ‘sensors’ could accurately track a missile and aim the laser to ‘confound the heat seeking sensors’ (paraphrased).

    Also what about other types of tracking systems, isn’t the infamous Stinger based on some kind of radar system that identifies the shape of the tracked aircraft?

  3. There’s this post from a few weeks ago:

    Called the Vigilant Eagle system, it would position a grid of infrared sensors on cellphone towers and buildings around airports.

    When it detected a heat-seeking missile launched at a passenger jet, it would steer an electromagnetic beam at the missile to divert it. It would also determine the launch point and quickly notify security officials.

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