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Countering the MANPADS Menace

NCJ Number
Homeland Defense Journal Volume: 1 Issue: 8 Dated: November 2003 Pages: 16-17
Sarita Chourey
Date Published
November 2003
2 pages
This article describes the governmental program of adapting military antimissile equipment for use on commercial aircraft.
In order to counter the threat of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), also referred to as surface-to-air missiles, the Department of Homeland Security is awaiting proposals for retrofitting commercial jets with military antimissile equipment. The threat posed by MANPADS to commercial aircraft is extremely salient, especially following the November 2002 attempt by suspected al-Qaeda operatives to destroy an Israeli airliner with two Russian-made SA-7 missiles as it departed Mombasa, Kenya. The two phases involved in the commercial aircraft defense system, as outlined by the Transportation Security Administration are described. Phase I is estimated to last 6 months and focuses on economic, manufacturing, and maintenance issues of modifying a military defense system for commercial airline use. Phase II focuses on developing and testing prototypes using existing technology. Some of the outstanding questions involved in the project include whether it is possible, how many airlines should be retrofitted, and who should pay for the program. The Department of Homeland Security has budgeted $60 million for the project in fiscal year 2004 and expects to appropriate another $40 million in fiscal year 2005. In addition to examining the feasibility of retrofitting commercial aircraft with antimissile equipment, the article also describes the missile attacks on commercial aircraft that have occurred since 1978 in order to illustrate the salience of the threat, especially following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.


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