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Anti-Missle Defenses for Commercial Jets

Omeger (939765) writes | more than 7 years ago

United States 594

The AP reports that jets with anti-missle defense systems. Sen. Barbara Baxter (D-California) is one of the supporters of the system. She, and other members of Congress are hoping to equip all US commercial passenger liners with this system in 20 years, which will cost billions of dollars. Is this good common sense or the costly futurThe AP reports that jets with anti-missle defense systems. Sen. Barbara Baxter (D-California) is one of the supporters of the system. She, and other members of Congress are hoping to equip all US commercial passenger liners with this system in 20 years, which will cost billions of dollars. Is this good common sense or the costly future of a society based around fear of terrorism? Please fix the HTML in this.

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Anyone know (5, Interesting)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665362)

When the last time this system would have saved an aircraft?

Re:Anyone know (2, Insightful)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665478)

Probably never. Shoulder fired missiles are usually infra red seeking. Which is a passively homing missile. I honestly don't know how the hell you would detect such a missile tracking you. As far as I knew, even military jets have no early warning of IR missiles.

Re:Anyone know (4, Interesting)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665596)

They do, they're just harder to track than radar guided missiles. It's basically a "Interesting, there's now a small object traveling at Mach 8 right for me" kind of system.

Re:Anyone know (5, Funny)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665514)

Just last week, on a connector flight from Des Moines International Airport to Minneapolis, we came under heavy flak around Albert Lea. Don't believe what the pilot is telling you: This is NOT turbulence, it's the Terrorists with Flak 88s trying to shoot down airliners. Should the Democrats ever surrender a supply of shoulder-launched heatseaking missiles to the Terrorists, this system will save countless lives.

Off-topic, but does anyone know where I can get a lithium refill around here?

Re:Anyone know (5, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665758)

Are you trying to be funny? Were you attempting to use your humor skills on Slashdot readers? Are you an idiot? Do you realize that Slashdot readers cannot recognise humor without a humor detection program? Oh, you're going to suffer. You think you're so smart, but you will SUFFER for your attempt at humor. We don't WANT it here. Humor is spam to us. We don't want anything funny here. Take your funny and go home. GET OUT . LEave with your funny comments now. Don't come back until you can be serious like me.

(This has been a public service announcement to let you know what the dumbass who moderated you as a troll was thinking.)

Re:Anyone know (4, Informative)

haeger (85819) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665516)

Well, it does seem to happen every now and then.
Can't say which one was the last one though.

The link. []


Re:Anyone know (4, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665536)

There was a missile fired at an Israeli passenger jet in Kenya on the same day as the hotel bombing there, a few years ago. Supposedly it was deflected by an ECM system that's standard (again, supposedly) on all Israeli passenger planes.

How cost-effective this is on your JetBlue flight from Topeka to Boise is another question, of course.

Re:Anyone know (1)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665604)

How cost-effective this is on your JetBlue flight from Topeka to Boise is another question, of course.

What about on the test plane? A FedEx cargo shifter. When was the last time a terrorist organisation ever targeted FedEx? If the plane doesn't get shot down, are they going to call the trial a success?

Re:Anyone know (1)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665648)

Sorry to reply to myself - I should have read more before. DHL is close enough to FedEx, I suppose, although this was in Baghdad, not Middle America: ent_in_Baghdad

Re:Anyone know (5, Funny)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665732)

I was kind of hoping for a controlled experiment: you have a group of FedEx planes with the system and a control group of FedEx planes without the system. Then you hand out SAMs at the street corner and tell everyone to fire them with wild abandon at FedEx planes. Explain that they are big flying pinatas. At the end of a month or when everyone is out of SAMs you tally up how many FedEx planes are left and see which group they were in. Easy.

Re:Anyone know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665792)

No, that was user error from the guys who fired the missile (an Igla-1 I believe). They failed to give it sufficient arming distance.

Re:Anyone know (3, Informative)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665542)

Addendum to my previous post. (I was right. It was never).

From TFA:

No passenger plane has ever been downed by a shoulder-fired missile outside of a combat zone. But terrorists linked with al Qaeda are believed to have fired two SA-7 missiles that narrowly missed an Israeli passenger jet after it took off from Mombasa, Kenya, in November 2002.

(Please note that SA-7 missiles are IR guided).

Who Cares If It Makes You Feel Better? (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665546)

When the last time this system would have saved an aircraft?
Off the top of my head, never. However, it will probably make a whole lot of people 'feel' safe. And, in the end, that's what matters today. A few billion for a sense of safety? That's nothing.
She and other members of Congress are hoping to equip all US commercial passenger liners with this system in 20 years, at a cost of billions of dollars. Is this good common sense or the costly future of a society hobbled by fear of terrorism?
How is this 'costly'? How many human lives would be lost as you install these defense systems in passenger liners? I don't think any. And as long as that billions of dollars goes back into the economy of the United States, it's not like we'd be losing billions of dollars. That money would be doing something and going back into the cycle of cash flow.

Billions of dollars. Big deal. How about we discuss the real costly future of a society hobbled by fear of terrorism and (for some reason) Muslims [] ? Yes, I'm talking about the $1 trillion that the Iraq war is costing us. Then there's the human lives being lost. You can't really put a price tag on those, as you would have to do so your own in the process.

These defense systems for passenger jets are a drop in the bucket compared to the war in Iraq. And, as far as human lives go, you can't even compare the two.

In the end, this movement doesn't even need to be common sense. It just has to be something that counteracts the fear that some Americans live with. I myself am not one of them--but if these politicians that the country elected believe they'll do the trick, then go ahead. I'd much rather see legislation like this being passed than to have our fearless leader attack Iran or North Korea.

To recap, it's not about if it would ever have saved a passenger jet, it's more so that people will think that the security on planes have become impervious to the types of attacks that terrorists have the means to execute.

I suppose now I'll be called an isolationist.

Re:Who Cares If It Makes You Feel Better? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665658)

"How is this 'costly'? How many human lives would be lost as you install these defense systems in passenger liners? I don't think any'

Just all the lives that would be saved (better health care, etc.) if this money were better spent.

Here comes the troll mod's (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665548)

When the last time this system would have saved an aircraft?
TWA Flight 800 []

Re:Anyone know (1)

3.14159265 (644043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665820)

Indeed. That's why the next step will most likely be to create, er, demand for it.
If you know what I mean.

Senator who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665368)

Barbara Baxter?

Re:Senator who? (4, Informative)

CmdrSlack555 (451965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665442)

That'd be Barbara Boxer. WTG, crack editing staff!

Just install them in airports (4, Interesting)

Monkeyman334 (205694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665388)

A shoulder fired rocket can not shoot that high. The plane is much more vulnerable when it is taking off or landing. So ... they should just install them at big airports to protect all jets coming in or out.

Re:Just install them in airports (2, Insightful)

dbrutus (71639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665412)

If they are fixed installations, they can be factored into an attack. If they travel with the plane, it's much harder to take them out.

cost benefit (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665822)

How about a cost/benefit analysis of such a system before we knee jerk expensive solution to a low risk problem.

The problem here is that people equate one 450 person aircraft with more value that of 40,000 fatalities due to automobile accidents.

Air travel is one of the safest forms of travel, bar none. We don't need to spend BILLIONS of dollars making it safer, mainly because it isn't going to make it much safer.

It all sounds good, but really, it is a waste.

Re:Just install them in airports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665576)

It'd also prevent malfunctioning lasers from burning down my house... again.

Re:Just install them in airports (2, Funny)

Sabotage (21481) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665630)

Jerry? Is that you?

How's the popcorn?

Re:Just install them in airports (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665710)

If they are that low why not just use an optically guided, or even guided by wire, missile?

Re:Just install them in airports (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665888)

These systems blind the missile by painting it with a laser, disrupting the sensor at the tip of the missile. It doesn't seem like such a system will work unless the missile and laser are pointing at each other so a ground based system might be pointless.

Absolute waste of money (4, Insightful)

rhavenn (97211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665394)

An absolute waste of money. The only thing it's good for is making defense contractors richer.

Re:Absolute waste of money (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665524)

An absolute waste of money. The only thing it's good for is making defense contractors richer.

Not true at all. It has lasers, so it's very good security theater and no money is too much for such.

Re:Absolute waste of money (2, Insightful)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665680)

Yeah, think of how many lives could be saved if the billions of dollars this will cost was instead spent on this was spent on, say, childhood immunizations, prenatal care, or automobile safety. Why do we spend money for creating the appearance of action against obscure but frightening risks, instead of focusing on less glamorous areas where our efforts can actually make a difference?

Must be because terrorists hate freedom.

Re:Absolute waste of money (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665722)

Agreed, the ironic truth is that we are far more likely to be terrorized by our own government than by rogue terrirosts. They nickle dime away our privacy rights and civil liberties, they constantly assult us in the name of the war on drugs, they nickle and dime us to death with taxes and regulations, constantly lie to us about inflation and value of our money, saturate us with more debt than we can pay back, and now we're told that what we really need is protection from rogue terrorists. Bullshit, the tax terrorists are far more evil, a far bigger threat, far more arrogant, and in as much dire need of an ass kicking as anyone else.

Re:Absolute waste of money (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665874)

This will cost billions but there is no money to fix all the wiring that passes through the fuel tanks which has actually caused air disasters.

I think you mean (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665400)

Barbara BOXER?

Re:I think you mean (0, Offtopic)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665650)

How is this redundant when this [] post got +4 when posted two minutes later. Mods: Just because it is further down the list doesn't mean it was posted later.

Market... (4, Insightful)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665406)

Why not just let airlines install the devices as the market demands, a portion of the market will want protection and a portion will not. The added cost will allow consumers to decide whether the protection is "worth it".

Re:Market... (1)

c_woolley (905087) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665628)

To the guy who said to buy flares or chaffs, shoulder fired missiles are usually not deterred by those. Most are guided. As for the person who thinks that installing them will stop us from shooting down the terrorists who take over If all the extra security stuff we put in place on flights were to fail (new flight crew doors, air marshals, security screening, really angry passengers not willing to go without a fight), we would not rely on ground fired missiles to take down the passenger airliner. We have things called fighter jets that shoot those down. God willing, that would never have to happen. As for these being installed on airliners, yeah, it is a waste of money. Would the public cry that we did not do enough to protect airlines against this type of threat if it did occur? Yeah. Welcome to the rock, over there is the hard place.

Re:Market... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665798)

You know, I really don't want to be part of a system that decides if something is worthwhile in this way. It's fine if we are talking about putting your life, or your wife's/ mother's/ sister's/ brother's life on the line to determine the market forces for installing these things. However, I do not want mine on the line for it.

Re:Market... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665828)

Imagine applying that same idea to overall airport security:

Fly cheap, convenient, mostly safe airlines! We are cheap and convenient.

Fly expensive, annoying mostly safe airlines! More invasive searches now free! Remember, we are expensive and annoying, but we might be a little safer.

Brilliant! (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665418)

The system is intended to detect the launch of a shoulder-fired missile at takeoff or landing, and disable the missile with a laser beam.

What a great idea! Now when the terrorists eventually take over another round of planes, they can effectively block missiles intended to shoot them down before reaching sensitive targets.

How about if next, we equip subway cars with nuclear self-destruct devices so terrorists can't use them to make their speedy getaways?

Re:Brilliant! (2, Insightful)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665554)

I think the system is designed to address the more primitive weapons, such as the rocket-propelled grenade, that rely upon good aim prior to launching. AFAIK, it's still pretty hard to shoot down a plane with such a primitive weapon, anyway.

Military technology that is specifically designed to shoot down a plane using an air-to-air missile, or even surface-to-air missile is much more sophisticated, and has a very good chance of defeating such a system at this point.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665772)

According to the article this would definitely not work on the primitive systems. It is supposed to "direct a laser to the seeker system on the head of the missile and disrupt its guidance signals. The laser is not visible and is eye-safe, the company said." So it is not destroying the missile with the laser, only interfering with its guidance systems. Which means it only works on active-guidance (possibly only laser-guided) systems, and wouldn't work for dumbfire missiles or RPGs. It would probably only guarantee that a passive infra-red system has an even better lock on the airplane.

Re:Brilliant! (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665626)

What a great idea! Now when the terrorists eventually take over another round of planes, they can effectively block missiles intended to shoot them down before reaching sensitive targets.

The system will be mounted on the belly of the aircraft, so an air-to-air missile launched from above will not be affected by it. It's possible to perform aerobatics in a passenger aircraft (rolls and such) but even so it is highly unlikely that a system designed to detect the launch of a ground-to-air missile could do anything about air-to-air missiles. If they could, then every aircraft in the military arsenal of sufficient size to carry the system would have one already, for missile point defense in flight.

In addition, passenger craft are subsonic (with a notable exception or two) while any contemporary jet is supersonic, and passenger craft are ungainly pigs compared to fighter aircraft. Thus you don't even need missiles; cannons would do the job just fine. You could literally line up and blow off the engines without substantial effort.

Aren't countermeasures cheaper? (4, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665428)

I'd assume you can get a few chaffs and flares for cheap these days. No need for all this fancy and probably expensive laser stuff.

Plus a few low-altitude 3-G turns (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665724)

Someone proposed flare systems for aircraft - I think some El Al A/C already have this and it was used in the indicent a couple year ago when someone shot off an antiaircraft missile in Kenya.

The laser systems are supposedly autonomous - they are on all the time, and thus might be more effective. Flare and chaff depliyment requires some skill on the part of the pilot, along with some 3G turns, and might actually be just as difficult and expensive to automate. The expensive part is detecting and tracking the launch, not firing the laser at it.

BTW its Sen BOXER not Sen BAXTER.

Re:Aren't countermeasures cheaper? (1)

3.14159265 (644043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665750)

yeah, well... there's no money it that, is there?

Re:Aren't countermeasures cheaper? (4, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665882)

Apparently the secret service thinks so too. Both Air Force One and Marine One ( Marine One is the chopper that the prez uses ) are equipped with flare and chaff countermeasures. And neither has been seen sporting a belly bulge like TFA shows to mount lasers.

Need? (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665430)

Just out of curiosity, how many commercial airliners in the US have been shot down with shoulder fired missiles? I haven't had any luck trying to find an instance in Google.

I could see a system like this for a plane that has to fly over Iraq or South Africa, but inside of the US/Canada/Europe/Australia/Asia it doesn't seem to be necessary, worse, a system like this is probably going to require massive power and have considerable complexity. Highly complex pieces of equipment are liable to malfunction at some point and possibly even cause a crash.

No, installing something like this in every airplane in the US fleet is just not realistic. Having it as an option for people who have to fly near areas where terrorists have shoulder fired missiles and a grudge against the west is good though.

Re:Need? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665642)

Just out of curiosity, how many commercial airliners in the US have been shot down with shoulder fired missiles? I haven't had any luck trying to find an instance in Google.

Good point. Why not wait until missile launchers like SA-18 [] become easily obtainable and begin shooting down airliners, before starting a research program that may take 10 years to produce something useful!

If you had read the article (2, Insightful)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665708)

They are aiming at 20 years in the future. This is a test release on a single aircraft. They want the system to be feasible and cheap in 20 years, when they feel it will probably be needed (and yea, saleable to the middle east / Africa / etc)

How about (1)

YuppieScum (1096) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665434)

stop making shoulder-launched missles?

Re:How about (5, Insightful)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665528)

Because by selling both the cause and the remedy, you get to profit twice! Happy days.

Re:How about Gun Control (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665712)

Stop making and selling guns.

Money can be better spent (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665444)

Billions of dollars spent on paranoid, non-deterrent rubbish such as this is just stupid. This money can be used to give our Americans fighting overseas better equipment, or heck it can be used to help families in need. There are countless ways to use such funds more wisely, and to greater benefit. The fact that our government has this kind of money to literally just toss about aimlessly, and continues to do so, really bothers me.

Re:Money can be better spent (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665610)

And don't forget. She is a Democratic.
I hate to say it but this is one of the reasons that people that hate the republican party with a passion tick me off. The party doesn't matter.
My senator is tying to force the navy to keep an Aircraft carrier that the Navy says they want to retire! He is also a democrat.

The reason Boxer supporting this bill is simple.
It will bring billions of dollars to defense contractors that are in her state.
That means jobs and contributions so she can get reelected.

Race Cars? (1)

Prysorra (1040518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665446)

Life is like a hurricane Here in Boxer-burg. Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes It's a jet-blur Might solve a mystery Or rewrite history! /sorry couldn't help it.

Edit Much? (0, Redundant)

cupofjoe (727361) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665448)

Um...I may be from California, but even I know that it's Barbara BOXER.

Thanks, and good-night.


Re:Edit Much? (1)

cupofjoe (727361) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665720)

I don't mean to be snippy, but how can the parent be redundant if it was posted first?

Just wondering.


Oops... (2, Funny)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665450)

Adapted from military technology, Guardian is designed to detect a missile launch and then direct a laser to the seeker system on the head of the missile and disrupt its guidance signals.

Is it a bird? Is it an airplane? Is it Superman? No, it's a missile crashing into the airport terminal!

Boxer not Baxter (1, Redundant)

Mr_Gazlay (780518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665460)

The junior senator from Califorina is Barbara Boxer not Barbara Baxter.

The captain speaking (1)

Merkwurdigeliebe (1046824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665482)

"Ladies and Gentlemen, if you look out the starboard side of the aircraft you will notice a trail of smoke and detonation smoke. That's from a thwarted missile attack on this vessel. If we hadn't been equipped with the anti-missile system right now we'd be in a different world now."

Just thought I'd let you know. Hope you enjoy your flight, please think of us when you fly again. Enjoy the peanuts. This is the captain speaking"

Back on track... Better to have the system than not, especially in "hot" areas of the world.

Huh (1)

RiotXIX (230569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665488)

I'm glad they didn't have this running during 911.

Why? (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665878)

Did that help?

feeling the sting (1)

cpearson (809811) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665490)

I wonder if flooding the world with Stinger shoulder fired missles was a good idea in retrospect?

Vista Help Forum []

Made in California? (4, Interesting)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665500)

Sen. Barbara Baxter (D-California) is one of the supporters of the system.

These expensive new anti-missile systems wouldn't happen to be made in Senator Boxer's home state of California, would they?

Re:Made in California? (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665566)

I was going to ask the same question. I could research it, but that would be like researching whether the MPAA or RIAA was behind some new piece of copyright legislation - i.e. pointless..."of course they are".

Pod Size (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665502)

Anyone know how big this pod is and the effect on fuel efficiency in this era of Global Warming?

One suspects in 20 years your average terrorist will be equipped with missiles that proudly boast that they defeat Guardian and similar military systems.

Also, with asymmetric warfare, I'd simply look at ways of getting a truck full of explosives onto the runway....

The airline industry sucks. (3, Insightful)

Skadet (528657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665510)

Wow. Running in debt, passenger cabins that aren't clean, meals that have been cut from shorter flights, and all on top of *higher ticket prices*. Now they want to install frickin' laser beams? That'll do wonders for affordability. Maybe a nice fat Government subsidy is in order?

Fantastic. Just fantastic.

Fuel Costs = not a fixed price (1)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665530)

A billion dollars or whatever. Sure.

The (US) airlines already have a fragile enough financial situation. That might change in the next 13 years, but the current system is obsessing about who pays for what weight. More weight from these anti-terror systems means more fuel consumption.

I'd like to think that billion dollars would be better applied to reinventing all sorts of jets, particularly passenger jets, to save fuel and thus operating costs for our very necessary airlines...

Alternative solution (1)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665550)

Why doesn't the US just stop making missiles and selling them to terrorists?

Security is a Joke (3, Insightful)

Mr_Blank (172031) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665582)

There is no such thing as security. Whatever one person can put together, another person can take apart. Virus scanners, the locks on my house and home, and the passwords on my bank accounts are all meant for one thing: To keep honest people honest. If someone really wants to, any security I could encumber some part of my life with can be undone by someone of focused malicious intent.

    The more society spends on 'security' the harder it is to undo that security. Build a Great Wall of China and it keeps the invaders out. Build a Great Wall of the Rio Grande and it keeps the Mexican immigrants out. But given time or motivation, invaders and immegrants find ways around the walls.

    The more society relies on 'security' the more devestating it is when that security fails. These planes will have protection against missles (how many times have planes been shot down by missles anyhow?!). I am sure some motivated criminal will determine that using a high powered large caliber rifle or remote controlled airplane with C4 attached works just as well for bringing down a plane; or something else we haven't even considered.

    In my view, the only way to minimize acts of terror, keep illegal immigrants at home, and make the world 'safe' is with economic development. If a person has a full stomach and something to do with their hands so they can avoid hunger tomorrow, then that person is too happy and busy to 'terrorize' or risk life and limb crossing the dessert.

    Money spent on walls, airline bomb closets and anti-air to air missle lazers, and even super cool rail guns are all poor investments, in my view. Better to spend the money on starting businesses, funding schools, and giving incentives to entrapeneurs. If everyone is fed and busy, the world is as safe as it could be (though still not perfectly safe).

MADPADS not the real threat to aviation safety (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665586)

While MADPADS (MAn Portable Air Defense Systems) are a threat, albeit a very small one, the real threat to aviation is CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) and ground accidents. It seems like a rather misdirected use of fund to require airliners to carry anti-MADPADS defenses. What if the ComAir flight was required to have a system that allowed either the flight crew or tower operator to monitor their position at the airport? They would have easily seen that the hadn't lined up on an active runway. These systems DO exist, aren't as costly and save real lives. System also exist that allow an air crew to see a profile of upcoming terrain and give them advanced warning if they are on a collision course with unseen terrain. While this doesn't frequently occur in the US, it *do* occur overseas to US airlines.

It's amusing, in a morbid way, that Congress continually cuts FAA funding while pronouncing they're deeply worried about people dying in aviation accidents. If anyone thinks that MADPADS are a real and serious threat, just go read a couple months' worth of NTSB accident reports and tell me that aviation safety is hinged on anti-MADPADS defenses.

The real question (2, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665606)

How can I get one for my cubicle? A few mods, and it could be my APHBM. If you can't figure out what the acronym is, you probably are a PHB.

Why should congress Pay? (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665620)

Why Should Congress Pay? To Protect Lives?

When I bought our new Minivan (expanding family) I Had to pay for side impact air bags if I wanted extra protection.

Shouldn't the airlines pay for this? Not Congress enriching the 1 or 2 companies that might actually make this, with MY (OUR) Money!

Grumble... Grumble... Why not add the cost to ticket prices and make the money back?


Why not install this at airports? (4, Interesting)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665622)

designed to defend against shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles during takeoffs and landings.
Wouldn't it be better and cheaper to base this on the ground at the small proportion of airports used by large passenger aircraft, not on the aircraft themselves? That way size and weight wouldn't matter, it would be in a less hostile environment, and maintenance would be easer?

how about offering reasoned resistance to terror? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665636)

'hobbled by fear of terrorism'.

does that mean we'd be more free and unhobbled taking no countermeasures against some people who want to kill us?

if you were in a position to surrender to a killer, and let them kill you, in a way you are free of the whole thing. you've forfeited the responsibility of survival. but is that a solution for the living?

terrorism and suicide bombing is an unreasoned thing, it is antithetical to civilization, it's the opposite of the advance of humanity toward awareness of himself, toward the use of reason. terrorism is an invitation to slide backward into the swamp, to become nothing more than an violent animal that takes for itself.

some kind of reasoned resistance to this tendency must be offered. who wants to live in a world where power is literally a gun pointed at your head, a rifle butt to the temple... and not in any literary, hyperbolic figurative sense... i mean in the sense of actual gangs that run your neighborhood and kill people in front of their kids.

does anyone agree that this needs to be stopped before it becomes a reality?

missle jets with lazer robotz (1)

chelanfarsight (835467) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665644)

this reminds me of the drawings my friends and i did in elementary school where the planes and spaceships literally bristled like porcupine needles with lasers, missles, antilaser-lasers, antimissle laser missles, etc... besides in 20 years time itll be 2026 and the apocalypse or time travel or flying cars or warp cores will be invented and none of it will matter anyways. this is the success of terrorism. terrorizing.

False Positives? (1, Funny)

SQLz (564901) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665666)

"Ooowww my eye!!"

Fear (2, Insightful)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665672)

I would say a rash measure for international flights, but domestic as well? Did we develop a problem with shoulder fired missles in the US recently? At billions of dollars, we are simply proving that terrorists are right. We really do just cower before them. They knock down a couple buildings and we'll change our entire culture and bankrupt our country in fear.

We are the axe, they are the dagger... (1)

SeaSolder (979866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665706)

There is no denying that "WE" (being the targets of "terrorism") have much greater military and technological might than the "terrorists". However, they are much more nimble, and through need, resourceful. By installing defense countermeasures, all we do is make them use a different strategy. The 9-11 hijackers used box cutters to overtake the planes, so we banned toenail clippers. Then some guy tried to blow up a plane by lighting his shoe on fire, so we all had to take off our shoes. Next, someone wanted to blow something up with liquid explosives, so mother's couldn't bring breast-milk on to airplanes. Now, someone is going to try and strangle someone with their pants, so we'll all have to be naked on the airplanes, or wear togas.
There is NO WAY to stop terrorists 100%. Using a million dollar laser to "blind" the sensors on a missile is our stereotypical approach to combating problems Using a 20 cent .50 cal bullet from a sniper rifle, put in the right place, is much more effective.

The Dagger is your local police force (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665902)

Terrorists, terrorists, the word is a word that points at the wrong place. You have a 100% more chance of being beating up, intimated, arrested, and imprisoned by your local corrupt police force and judge, taxed by them, criminalized by them, electrocuted by them, then anyone on the other side of the globe.

This war is not between the American people and the terrorists. This war is a war of the people of the world against the criminal, corrupt United States military, government, police state and prison system, and industrial complex.

American citizens are too spineless to overthrow their own corrupt government and replace it with something more democratic. What we have in America is the sham of a democracy, the candy coating of it. Like a bottle of coke or pepsi that so stereotypifies America... a pretty label on the inside, but a toxic waste dump of chemicals that will turn you diabetic, depressed, and hepped on caffeine paranoid on the inside. Its a marketing lie. Everything about America is about marketing lies.

This is rediculous (1)

baggins2001 (697667) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665716)

Okay so they stop a shoulder fired missile. What are they going to do about someone with a .50 caliber sniper rifle. Fire that into a turbine engine on takeoff and I bet it has the same affect.

Missile Defense In General (1)

spoonboy42 (146048) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665736)

I remember a conference of Physicists at my University a few years back talking about possible missile defense technologies. The general consensus is that missile defense technologies aren't going to be very effective at defending against missiles (certainly they won't stay ahead of missile guidance systems), but they are a great way to spend billions of dollars on the aerospace industry.

please help me understand this... (3, Insightful)

David_Shultz (750615) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665738)

if you were close enough to hit an airplane with a shoulder fired rocket, couldn't you instead use explosives to damage the runway enough to cause a crash? The aftermath of a failed landing or even a failed takeoff is probably enough to serve the terrorists purpose. Anyone remember the failed takeoff of the Air France plane at Pearson international? []
Not to mention the fact that I can't find a single instance of a commercial aircraft being hit by a shoulder fired rocket.

This is a stupid waste of money. Of course, it will earn some weapons manufacturers some cash, and it will make some people feel safer -at least until they realize that the next commercial hijackers now control a high-powered laser, but hey, who am I to mock attempts at the "war on terror"? Who'd have thought that waging a war against an abstract noun could have been so tricky?

Barbara Baxter? (0, Redundant)

donutello (88309) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665742)

Does California have a third senator besides Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer?

Next on Mythbusters! (5, Funny)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665754)

I say we let the MythBusters team test this one out, before the congress votes on it.

Adam: On this episode of MythBusters, we test if terrorists can use the signal from a missile-jamming laser system to actually track the plane more accurately than would otherwise be possible.

Jamie: Yes, this is one of those stories we've been getting a lot of email about, and we've gotten special support from the folks at Northrop Grumman. I'm really looking forward to trying this one out.

[20 minutes of footage of tinkering with rocket guidance systems and guest rocket scientists advice, with several shots of rockets missing a watermelon with a simple modulated laser on it, and at last some splattered fruit.]

Adam: This is so cool - I think we're ready for the real test.

Jamie: Yeah, I'm really happy with how this came out. I'm surprised how easy it was to change the laser guidance on these missiles to track towards our laser masking system. We'll just have to see how the real system pans out.

Announcer: Coming up next: Will the airplane defense work against the modified missile? [Video of a missile heading towards an airplane] See what happens, after this break!...

Hey - at least it would be better standards than the folks who currently test our voting equipment, and likely many of our governmentally-mandated military expenditures.

Ryan Fenton

My magic rock (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665762)

It makes you safe from tiger attacks.

What about Hijacked planes (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665782)

Sure there is a small chance but lets just say we had a plane hijacked. It is moving for the white house and we need to take it out before it crashes into the building. Say our fighter jets go up but the hijackers utilize the ability to knock out our missles coming for them? I would think that mabye there would be an override system but still.

Also how often do terrorist come into our territory and start shooting down our commercial planes?

When you have to battle every seconds agains enemy (1)

denisbergeron (197036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665796)

maybe it's time to look at your action !

Thank god (5, Funny)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665800)

Thank god that FedEx is finally protected against those UPS militia death-squads.

A better foreign policy (0, Flamebait)

skeldoy (831110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665812)

would eliminate the need for this system.

The gov't always overlooking... (1)

Dasupalouie (1038538) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665814)

It's funny that the US is more concered about airspace than their water front cargo ports, your comparing hundreds of thousands to billions. What's smarter? Straping on a expensive anti-missle system on one plane thats carrying around half a million dollars of cargo or putting all that money collectively into water front security and inspection teams? Its just all for grants like Halliburton...

now they like lasers (0, Flamebait)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665832)

back when Reagan offered a vision for anti-missile defense using lasers he and the program were ridiculed. now, babs (yes, she's my senator, heaven help us!!) thinks they're a good thing.

Pork from Sen. Boxer (0, Flamebait)

w.p.richardson (218394) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665860)

Sen. Boxer supports this because it will enrich her constituents in CA. I think this is the most repugnant form of vote buying / pandering that we see in politics. This is the vulgar spectacle that politics have become - if you are under the impression that there is a difference between any politicians, think again.

Flying the unfriendly skies... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665864)

Won't be long before the "anti-competitive" laser system is installed on commercial cargo carrier planes. Should be interesting when FedEx and UPS are shooting lasers at each when flying their planes.

Waitaminit... (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665880)

Just how important is that FedEx shipment?

Infared Barrier? (1)

mrshowtime (562809) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665886)

Would an infrared "Barrier" around airports do the same thing? It seems it would be a lot safer to have infrared emitters stationed around the entire airport and surround areas, so the rockets/missiles strike the infrared stations instead of putting countermeasures on the planes themselves?

Military Industrial complex with a different shine (5, Informative)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665890)

Barbara Boxer is a Senator from California.

Northrup Grumman makes this system, and it's a potential multi-billion dollar contract.

Northrup Grumman is headquartered in Los Angelas, CA.

I just wanted to point that out. Every other highly modded comment is pointing out how there are better ideas than this.

Preparation & Insurance (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665898)

Given some of the above comments, as one might apply them to personal computers in the early 70s, "Who needs one, let alone two?"

Head restraints, crumple zones, airbags, and such are not needed for the vast majority of citizens, "Who needs them?"

The vast majority of homes never burn down, "Who needs fire insurance?"

Trying to solve problems is essentially what Slashdot tries to cover on a daily basis and you would think we are not by reading some of these comments. Whether we are learning to fight insurgents and gain the knowledge and experience and ability to track and identify, where we did not before, or establish systems that we improve to screen passengers, they all get improved over time (think DOS computers to now).


Um. (1)

neimon (713907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17665904)

Think about this, ok? Ocean liners were pressed into service as troopships. The SS United States was specifically designed as one, after WWII, with its top speed kept classified.

So were there to be some kind of war-like thingy, you'd want commercial cargo planes to be self-protecting because we'd be using them to move war stuff'n'shit around. Plus, who doesn't want to put an eye out with a 747?

Hurry up terrorists! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17665908)

You've only got a mere 20 years to execute your diabolical plans!
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