In 2002, terrorists fired a surface-to-air missile at an Israeli passenger jet as it took off from a runway in Mombassa, Kenya. The explosive missed the target and the incident sparked a debate on how Israel airlines could best defend against similar attacks in the future.
Well, nervous flyers can soon rest easy. Israel’s Ministry of Defense recently announced that a commercial version of SkyShield, a missile defense system developed by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems, has been certified for use on passenger airplanes.
The MUlti-Spectral Infrared Countermeasure, or C-MUSIC for short, combines laster technology and a thermal camera to detect and deflect an incoming missile by jamming its navigational systems, steering it off course and detonating it a safe distance from the plane. The C-MUSIC mechanism will be mounted to the aircraft’s underbelly.
“SkyShield has been validated under the most complex and sophisticated testing conditions ever conducted in Israel and is now ready to protect Israeli airlines,” said Israel Air Force Brig. Gen. Eitan Eshel, director of research and development at Israel’s Defense Ministry, according to Wired.
The laser-blasting system will first be applied to all El Al airliners, Israel’s national fleet. However, Elbit Systems says it has contracts with several countries around the world.
Credit: Elbit Systems