Anti-Missile Devices Set for Testing on US Airliners

Laser jammers slated for cross-country flights
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2008 6:57 PM CST
BAE Systems is teamed with American Airlines during Phase III of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Counter-MANPADS program.    (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The Department of Homeland Security will equip three American Airlines passenger planes with anti-missile laser jammers this spring, USA Today reports. The devices, designed to confuse shoulder-launched projectiles, will be mounted on planes flying between New York and California to assess overall maintenance concerns, how the system works on routine flights and how it affects fuel consumption.

Although missiles have never been fired at passenger planes in US airspace, portable rocket launchers are cheaply available on the black market. The tests themselves, however, cost $29 million, and American already has claimed it is "philosophically opposed" to the footing the bill in the future. Homeland Security will not fire missiles at the planes during the test.