What is the realistic likelihood of your aircraft being targeted by a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (SAM) in the hands of a terrorist? After an Israeli charter airliner was unsuccessfully attacked by such weapons in Mombasa, Kenya, on November 28, the threat of man-portable air defense systems (manpads) has elevated concerns about terrorists shooting at airplanes.
Federal legislation introduced last month would require surface-to-air missile (SAM) protection, similar to that now used on military transport aircraft, on all of the nearly 7,000 U.S.-registered jet airliners. The bill, coauthored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), directs that installations begin by the end of the year.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded two $45 million contracts for further research into shoulder-launched-missile protection systems for commercial aircraft. BAE Systems, based in Nashua, N.H., and Northrop Grumman each got the nod to take its program to the Phase II level–a time period covering the 18 months from August this year through January 2006.
Two companies are offering Israeli-built anti-missile systems to the civil aircraft market to protect airliners and business aircraft from the terrorist threat posed by shoulder-launched missiles, or Manpads (man-portable air defense systems).
L-3 Avisys is offering business aircraft operators a missile protection system based on the Widebody Integrated Platform Protection System (WIPPS) that it installed on an Airbus A340 last year for a Middle Eastern head-of-state customer.
Russia’s AGAT Research Institute is unveiling a new seeker that could become an industry standard in the air-to-air and surface-to-air missile industry. Designated the 9B-1103M-150, the model is a more advanced and compact version of the active RH seeker fitted to the Vympel RVV-AE medium-range air-to-air missile–the Russian equivalent of the Raytheon AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM).
International air show regulars have become accustomed to seeing Russian arms house Vympel’s line of air-to-air missiles (AAM) alongside Sukhoi’s fighter aircraft. But this week’s Le Bourget event marks the last time the companies will cohabitate.
BAE Systems has begun trials of its Jeteye laser-based system for protecting commercial airliners from man-portable missile attack. These are due to be completed by the end of January, when a U.S. supplementary type certificate is due to be issued.
In the quarter century since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran has established in-house capability for the development and production of cruise and ballistic missiles. To cope with the effect of the military equipment sales embargo on the country, Iranian specialists have mastered reverse-engineering methods.
A complex chain of illegal sales, technology proliferation and cooperation between countries the Bush Administration regards as rogue states has produced what some fear may have increased the threat to naval vessels operating in the Arabian Gulf.