Better safe than sorry..
It seems like nearly a decade has gone by since Israel decided to outfit international airliners with missile defense systems, in actuality it has only been about 7 years. The initial spur was the widely reported attempt by Al Qaeda to knock an Israeli commercial jet out of the sky on takeoff from Mombasa Kenya, during a simultaneous attack which sadly killed 10 people in a suicide bombing. The missiles targeting the Israeli aircraft thankfully did not connect.
Israel shortly thereafter announced it was prepped to mandate missile defense systems for all Israeli commercial carriers, however the flare based system proposed at the time known as Flight Guard drew harsh reactions from international airport operators who threatened to ban Israeli carriers from landing if the system were deployed because they deemed the flares a danger to aircraft..
Defense Update has details on the new laser based effort called C-Music developed by Elbit, and the 76 million dollar tender to get Israeli carriers some effective missile counter measures.
Israel’s Ministry of Transportation awarded Elbit Systems a $76 million contract for the supply of directional infra-red countermeasure systems (DIRCM) developed and produced by Elbit Systems’ wholly owned subsidiary, Elbit Systems Electro-optics El-Op Ltd. The systems will be installed aboard a variety of commercial passenger airplanes operated by Israeli airlines El-Al, Arkia and Israir as part of the comprehensive ‘Sky Shield’ air transport defense plan [...]
The system selected for the program is the C-MUSIC (commercial multi-spectral infrared countermeasure), employs a fiber-laser based directional infra-red countermeasure technology developed for military aircraft and helicopters. The laser beam generated by the system disrupts missiles fired at aircraft and causes them to veer off course.
Remarkably, the defense system weighs only about 50 kilos – About two pieces of luggage worth on a standard commercial carrier. I don’t know about you but this is a big draw for me to fly El Al in general. The thought of having defense against terrorist shoulder fired missiles which is going to be an ever growing international threat is no small comfort!
The CNN article linked above talks about the possibility of surviving such a strike and only losing an single engine, yeah except for the fact that the engine blaring out heat & attracting the missile is hanging directly below a wing packed with fuel, and the attempt we already saw featured multiple missiles targeting a lone aircraft.
I rather think being taken out by a small shoulder fired SAM on take off or landing pretty much means a total loss of the aircraft and the hundreds on board, there’s not going to be a recovery from that in my opinion. Especially if this is a takeoff with thousands upon thousands of pounds of fuel on board.
A tempting terrorist target in fields and locales outside airports where a lone scumbag can cause serious aviation horror. Depending on how successfully the newest deployment effort goes I would imagine other carriers not Israel related may show serious interest as well.