Israel’s Commercial Jets Will Soon Be Firing Lasers
Israel is finally ready to combat shoulder-launched missiles and they’re going to do it with lasers.
Israel’s Ministry of Defence announced Wednesday that SkyShield, developed by Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems, had successfully completed testing and is certified for commercial use to combat the threat of man-portable surface-to-air missile systems (MANPADS) by combining advanced laser detection and disruption technologies.
C-MUSIC, the commercial version of SkyShield, integrates laser technology with a thermal camera to deflect incoming threats by jamming. After detecting incoming missiles with an infrared sensor, it fires a laser that disrupts the missile’s navigation system, taking it off course and detonating the missile a safe distance from the aircraft.
“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 Defence Ministry.
The technological advancement is a direct response to the 2002 attempt by terrorists in Mombasa, Kenya in which two surface-to-air missiles were fired at an Israeli charter plane shortly after takeoff. The missiles missed their target and its more than 250 passengers, but the event prompted then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to call for an urgent defence response.
Although the project was supposed to be expedited, it was delayed for several years because of infighting among competing defence firms and government agencies over which one would foot the bill. Once the contract was awarded to Elbit Systems, completion of the project took about three years.
The system will first be implemented on all El Al airliners, but Elbit says it has contracts with several other countries around the world.
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