AFP
Last updated: 26 February, 2014

Israel tests anti-missile system for passenger planes

Israel has successfully completed tests of a new missile defence system for commercial aircraft and plans to start fitting it to its passenger fleet, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.

It said the automatic laser-based “SkyShield” system detects shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and also scrambles their guidance systems, rendering them harmless.

“The tests, conducted in a test range in the south of Israel, were the most complex and sophisticated ever held in the state of Israel,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The series of tests included a wide variety of threats that the SkyShield system would have to tackle in order to protect passenger aircraft”.

It did not say when SkyShield would enter service.

Last August, the airport in the Israeli Red Sea resort town of Eilat was briefly closed over unspecified security concerns.

The town next to Egypt’s troubled Sinai Peninsula has been the target of cross-border rocket attacks, and Israeli media said on Wednesday that SkyShield would be fitted to domestic flights going there as well as to international destinations.

In 2002, a flight of Israel’s Arkia airline with 261 passengers on board came under attack from two shoulder-fired missiles as it took off from Mombasa, Kenya. They narrowly missed their target.