Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Israel leads in missile protection

Israel Military Industries (IMI) has developed an invisible flare for use by its Flight Guard protection system for civilian aircraft.
The Flight Guard system, developed jointly by IMI and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), will soon be installed on six El Al Israel Airlines passenger aircraft, making El Al the world's first airline to operate aircraft equipped with a defence system against shoulder-launched missiles.

Flight Guard is undergoing a series of flight tests, where the system is checked against the infrared seekers of several surface-to-air missiles. The tests will be concluded in August and the first system is scheduled to be installed in an El Al aircraft in September.

Since the use of Flight Guard has not been approved by US and European aviation authorities, it will first be installed on aircraft serving Africa and Asia, where the level of threat is considered higher. However, IMI and IAI are expecting the new invisible flare to improve the chances of Flight Guard receiving Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensing, as the flare is designed to reduce public fright when activated over an airport.

Flight Guard is adapted from a military system used by the Israel Air Force's fixed-wing and rotorcraft. It comprises a variant of IAI subsidiary Elta's EL/M-2160 pulse-Doppler radar, which detects surface-to-air shoulder-launched missiles. The radar activates IMI's countermeasures dispensing system (CMDS), which jams heat-seeking missiles and sends them off course by creating a signature close to that of the aircraft's engine. "