Should commercial airplanes have missile defense system? - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Should commercial airplanes have missile defense system?

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Fighter jets do it, so why can’t the same technology help commercials airplanes avoid missile strikes? (Source: YouTube/CNN) Fighter jets do it, so why can’t the same technology help commercials airplanes avoid missile strikes? (Source: YouTube/CNN)
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(CNN) – A commercial plane shot out of the sky now renews support for finding a way to protect commercial flights, with missile defense technology similar to that on U.S. military planes.

There are options, but almost all are designed to stop shoulder-fired missiles, like the one that took down DHL Flight over Baghdad in 2003, which the crew survived.

One option: flares, or what’s called Chaff – tiny pieces of aluminum stuffed into a canister that create a sort of visual smoke screen that tricks to missiles radar temporarily.

"The chaff will surround an area behind the wing or the aircraft as they aircraft flies away diverting the missile. The other simple design used to be called flare, and just like a road flare produces some heat source and you shoot that off somewhere away from the aircraft," retired U.S. commercial pilot Ross Aimer said.

There are also new high tech options – there is one from defense contractor Northrop Grumman called the Guardian.

"When a missile is fired the systems sensors automatically detect it and track it,” a simulation video by Northrop Grumman said. “Directing an eye safe laser beam into the missiles seeker. The system jams the missile and drives it away from the aircraft."

Systems like this are already in use on planes flown by Israel’s El Al Airline.

"In Israel today, one of their homegrown defense systems called Elbit systems outfitted their fleet with counter measures to deal with the more traditional type shoulder launcher missiles," aviation advisor Brian Foley of BRiFO said.

But aviation experts say when it comes to the more advanced surface-to-air missiles, like the one U.S. intelligence believes shot down MH-17, the technology just isn’t there yet.

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, R-IL, is calling for action, sending a letter to the FAA asking them “to promote a study to detail the feasibility, cost and time frame to install countermeasures that could defend against surface-to-air missiles on U.S. civilian airliners conducting long-range international routes.

After Sept. 11, he added that they U.S. Department of Homeland Security spent $276 million studying a way for commercial airliners could be protected against shoulder fired missiles.

"It's available technology but why don't we put them on airliners. It's the cost," Foley said.

Copyright 2014 YouTube, Northrop Grumman, Elbit Systems, WHIO via CNN. All rights reserved.

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