• United States



by Dave Gradijan

DHS Considers Alternatives for Defending Jets

Apr 20, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

The Department of Homeland Security is soliciting alternative technology to help protect commercial airliners from the threat of shoulder-fired missiles.

An article on reports that the DHS’ high-profile program to counter Man Portable Air Defense Systems involved adapting military technology for commercial use. Now it is seeking other kinds.

Current contracts with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, each for $45 million, converted military infrared lasers for use with civilian aircraft. They detect missiles and fire a laser beam to jam the missile’s guidance system.

However, critics have questioned their viability, according to Costing between $1 million and $3 million per plane, they are reputed not to be reliable enough for frequent commercial air traffic.

The DHS’ solicitation specified that the technology can be based on the ground, the plane or both, and should be able to defeat two or more incoming missiles 90 percent of the time. Additionally, it can’t interfere with other ground and air-based systems.

The Congressional Research Service reports that as many as 5,000 to 15,000 shoulder-fired missiles are in terrorist hands worldwide. Since 1980, 35 civilian airplanes were attacked by these weapons. Testing of ground-based systems will take place at airports in Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Newark, N.J., San Diego and Washington National Aiport.

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By Paul Kerstein