Saturday, November 12, 2011
Israel to install more advanced anti-missile technology on civillian planes
Israel has sped up work on a missile defense system for its commercial airliners because of fears that Palestinian militants in Gaza have obtained anti-aircraft weapons looted from Libya, defense officials said Friday.
All Israeli passenger planes will be fitted with the laser-based system “within months,” or about a year ahead of schedule, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to brief journalists.
About 100 planes are being fitted with the system, named C-Music, at a cost of about $135 million. It aims to improve on earlier technology installed on a smaller number of jets flying to destinations known to be home to militant groups or otherwise considered dangerous, especially in Africa and parts of Asia. That device fired flares to lure heat-seeking missiles away from the plane.
The officials said the new system uses lasers to more effectively jam heat-seeking mechanisms and throw missiles off target.
The project was sped up because of fears that weapons looted during the civil war in Libya have been smuggled into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the officials said.
Israel has maintained a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip to prevent weapons smuggling since the militant group Hamas seized control of the territory from its more moderate Palestinian rivals in 2007. But tunnels underneath Gaza’s border with Egypt still provide an entry point for smugglers.