Protection against shoulder-launched missiles, mandatory?

How realistic is it that passenger aircraft might be equipped with protection systems against the threat of shoulder-launched missiles?

I think that unless regulatory bodies decide these systems are mandatory, they will not be fitted.

To mount these systems on an aircraft would mean less passengers in the cabin, which would not please the airlines. Only if regulatory bodies, such as the FAA, decide these systems are crucial will the very real threat be handled efficiently.

In this year’s Paris air show, Elbit systems unveiled a full-size model of its commercial multi-spectral infrared countermeasure system (C-MUSIC), that protects large jet aircraft against shoulder-launched missiles, which are in the hands of many terror organisations.

The 2.7m-long pod will be carried under the aircraft’s belly. It houses the advanced fibre laser-based DIRCM mirror turret developed by Elbit Systems Electro-optics Elop, as well as the IR Passive Approach Warning System (PAWS) sensors developed by Elbit Systems’ Elisra.

C-MUSIC is designed to protect large jet aircraft against man-portable heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles known as MANPADS. Based on MUSIC systems currently in use on helicopters and medium turboprop fixed-wing aircraft, C-MUSIC’s fibre laser-directed IR countermeasure technology creates a laser beam that is directed towards the tracked missile, effectively defeating the incoming threat.

According to the Israeli company the pod is modified specifically for the stringent demands of commercial aviation. C-MUSIC can be tailored to jets of all sizes and its fully automatic operation has no impact on flight crew workload.

C-MUSIC has been selected by the Israeli Ministry of Transportation to protect the entire Israeli commercial fleet. It includes certification to FAR-25 requirements by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel. Elbit Systems is now expanding its offering to the international market.

After the unsuccessful attempt to down an Arkia 757 in Kenya with a shoulder-launched missile in 2002, the Israeli government decided to equip some Israeli passenger jets with an interim solution, based on flares that can divert the missile.

Until now, no Israeli passenger aircraft has been equipped with a full protection system. Will that change in the future? Only if the law requires it.

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