In some countries the tendency is to ignore. This is despite the solid fact that at least 50,000 shoulder-launched missiles are in the hands of all sorts of terror organisations around the world.
The last boost to that wide world stock came courtesy of the late Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, who stockpiled them, only God knows why. The missiles, old and new, were looted by militia people that took advantage of the chaos in Libya.
Intelligence sources say that many found their way to the Egyptian Sinai Desert, where they became the hottest merchandise of the Bedouin tribes.
The Sinai is now the “wild land” of Egypt, with no real control by the Egyptian security forces.
The threat is everywhere but only Israel, at this point in time, is trying to foil any attempt to use these missiles against its civil aircraft.
The effort started in 2002, shortly after an attempt was made to shoot down an Israeli passenger aircraft that took off from Mombasa in Kenya.
The development was slow. In fact two systems were developed, but in the future the first Israeli passenger aircraft will be equipped with the countermeasure system that was selected.
The Israeli civil aviation authority (CAA) is in the process of certificating the Elbit Systems C-Music countermeasures system.
The certification will be applicable for use on the Boeing 737, 747, 777 and Airbus A-320.
C-Music is based on the Music system, a direct infra-red countermeasure
technology for military aircraft and helicopters that disrupts missiles fired at
aircraft and causes them to veer off course by transmitting a laser beam.
Elbit Systems says that the system’s reliability, rapid response and ability to deal with multiple threats are considered to be among the most advanced systems of its kind in the world today.
Will other countries follow Israel? This is the big question. There are two main problems – who will fund the installation and who will compensate the airlines for the extra weight of the system and the drag it causes, which will be reflected in fuel consumption.
Next time you are in an aircraft taking off from an international airport, look out of the window and try to locate the potential spots that can serve a terrorist with a shoulder-launched missile. Ignoring a threat does not eliminate it.