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Northrop to Sell Laser Shield Bubble for Airports

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the charge-the-ion-cannon dept.

648

NeoPrime writes "CNN Money web site has a story about Northrop Grumman forecasting development of a laser shield 'bubble' for airports and other installations in the United States within 18 months. The system will be called Skyguard — a joint venture with Israel and the U.S. Army. It will have the capability to generate a shield five kilometers in radius."

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I have this rock that keeps tigers away. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709773)

What do you mean, does it work? Of course it's working, you don't see any tigers do you?

Failure modes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709936)

And what happens when it is screwed with, causing it to shoot down planes instead of missiles?

The cure might be worse than the disease...

Re:Failure modes (5, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15710027)

And what happens when it is screwed with, causing it to shoot down planes

Rocks don't do that. Their failure mode is to lie there and gather moss.

Missile Command! (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709778)

Gentlemen (and ladies), unpack your Atari 2600's.

Protect those cities!

Re:Missile Command! (1)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709798)

Sir you are a god

Re:Missile Command! (2, Interesting)

nickheart (557603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709807)

This seems to be the closest that any of the current posts have gotten to the actual product that is being sold.

Yes it seems funny to have a real-life space invaders defence, but it's not the worst idea in the world.

We know that light is faster than any other Surface to air defence we currnetly employ, but also that it follow a (reletively) straight line.

i think that with enought testing and debugging, you should be albe to knock a missle out of the air even when it's raining/snowing - in reply to a different post.

Re:Missile Command! (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709891)

s/space invaders/missile command/

Re:Missile Command! (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709857)

Yeah but don't forget what happened at game over ...

THE
END

Who needs this (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709779)

The Palestinians need a laser shield a lot more than Israel does.

Re:Who needs this (0)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709808)

How unironic that Palestinians need an anonymous coward to plead their case. Bring it on, foes.

Re:Who needs this (1, Offtopic)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709830)

Yea but Palestinians dont have batshit crazy neighbors who love to kill them with Nukes as soon as they finish their program ala Iran.

Re:Who needs this (2, Informative)

Oldav (533444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709849)

Of course they have crazy thieves next door insted who kill 3 times as many palestinians than the Palestinians kill them, then plead terrorism is only from the palestinian side. What a load of crap

Re:Who needs this (-1, Flamebait)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709867)

If the dune coons would get it through their head to leave them alone, I dont think Israel would have to defend itself.

Re:Who needs this (0, Flamebait)

Oldav (533444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15710033)

What you mean let them steal their land and get away with it? Isreal was created by terrorism, ever heard of the Stern Gang the original terrorists. Anyone who uses the kind of language you do is obviously a racist pig anyway I guess. Hows the war in Iraq going anyway?, The US will leave soon tail between legs whilst all of us who were telling them not to when they went in are seeing our predictions come true with remarkable accuracy. Nuke Isreal and solve 90% of terrorism I say!

Terrorists? (2, Interesting)

chis101 (754167) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709781)

I hadn't heard anything about airports being threatened by ballistic missiles...

Is this a genuine threat, or just some company thought "Hey, I bet I can get them to buy this!"

Re:Terrorists? (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709810)

I hadn't heard anything about airports being threatened by ballistic missiles...

Presumably, the more likely concern would be shoulder-fired SAMs shot at approaching/departing aircraft. A system that could actually acquire and zap such a thing from anywhere around the airport grounds would have to be highly automated and very fast... I'm a little concerned about false positives. A lot, actually.

Re:Terrorists? (1)

Professional Slacker (761130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709835)

Think of it as an opportunity for a new chain of franchise restaurants. Laser Roasted Duck, anyone?

Re:Terrorists? (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709924)

Try: "Laser Roasted Cessna" when a small private aircraft is mistaken by a $10/hr security guard as a threat.

Oops.

Re:Terrorists? (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709864)

You've got it in one.

The object of this thing is C-RAM (Counter Rocket/Artillery/Mortar). I worked for a whort while on a comparable system.

Just wait....... (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709840)

until the aircraft is 6km away, then it becomes easy to shoot down.

MANPADs (5, Insightful)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709852)

According to TFA, the "shield" should be useful against a variety of threats, ranging from SCUD-like rockets to man-portable air-defense (MANPAD) shoulder-launched heat-seeking missiles.

You never know if the reporter got it right or if the publicist had an overactive imagination, but the big threat people are worried about is some dude hiding in the weeds and shooting one of those shoulder-launched heat-seeking missiles at an airliner trying to take off or land. There has been talk about equiping airliners with countermeasures against heat-seeking missiles.

The way the countermeasures are supposed to work is that most heat seekers are not full-fledged imaging devices but are instead rotating scan devices, and if you know the nature of the threat, you could pulse a heat source on and off to throw such a missile off target. I really think it is a stretch for a laser to stick in an airport control tower to actually shoot down a missile by zapping it with the laser. I think it would be a much safer thing, especially around a civilian airport, to spoof such a missle by pulsing it with IR to confuse the scanning seeker, or if that doesn't work, to blind an imaging sensor with a thermal pulse.

It kind of makes sense to provide a central, airport-based spoofer/blinder instead of having distributed spoofer/blinders on all of the aircraft. That avoids the old-aircraft retrofit problem, and the planes really only need this protection as they are landing and taking off -- those shoulder-launched missiles don't go very far. It would also make a lot of sense to provide protection against heat-seeking missiles because terrorists in theory could get a hold of them and they are small and portable to sneak around with. It would also make more sense that the laser system would be a spoofer/blinder kind of countermeasure rather than a Star Wars type of shoot-down ballistic missile defense.

Re:MANPADs (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709947)

I really think it is a stretch for a laser to stick in an airport control tower to actually shoot down a missile by zapping it with the laser. I think it would be a much safer thing, especially around a civilian airport, to spoof such a missle by pulsing it with IR

The best Suppression of an Enemy Air Defense system is to hard-kill that system.

Re:MANPADs (1, Insightful)

tsotha (720379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709999)

I really think it is a stretch for a laser to stick in an airport control tower to actually shoot down a missile by zapping it with the laser

I don't see why you think this is a stretch. This kind of system has already been tested against mortar rounds and Katyushas, and it seems to work. With the right sensors there's no reason this can't be done.

Interesting, but... (1)

Robot Randy (982296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709783)

I hope they get the detection down right. I don't want any laser beams poking holes through whatever single engine private plane I happen to be flying in...

Randy

Re:Interesting, but... (0)

JustOK (667959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709801)

Well, we live in a democracy, and I bet we'd get more votes to fry ur butt than not, so...

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

nickheart (557603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709822)

I can't wait untill this sig gets pulled up in some archive in 2028, and the ensuing lawsuit...

Re:Interesting, but... (2, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709922)

Like I haven't forseen such an eventuality...

only if you fly wrongly (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709971)

Stay on course. Don't buzz the control tower. Don't be on the wrong runway. Don't climb or dive too fast.

Re:only if you fly wrongly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15710012)

And make sure your transponder never fails!

Picking up the "clue words" (5, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709786)

I see "laser" and I see "bubble." Clearly, this plan involves some frickin sharks at some point.

So, (1)

The Evil Couch (621105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709791)

What happens if it snows or rains in the area?

Re:So, (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709826)

What happens if it snows or rains in the area?


It may affect visibility, and if you're outside you might get wet.

Re:So, (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709897)

Lots of laser beams vaporizing water droplets and flakes. It'll be like a Pink Floyd laser light show... you know, without the music.

-matthew

Re:So, (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709973)

I'm sure some levels of vaporization produce noise. Perhaps the noises might coalesce into some kind of musical waveform? :)

Re:So, (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709943)

Well see by "shield" we mean "umbrella". It's some technical jargon that you don't have to bother yourself with.

Re:So, (4, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15710036)


Don't worry about it. If decades of Star Wars have taught us anything it is that (1) you always run tests under artificially optimal conditions, and (2) it doesn't actually have to work to get more contracts.
 

That goose is cooked (5, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709795)

By which I mean actual, migrating waterfowl. They'll fall out of the sky right into the Orange Terminal's food vending area, where Duck a la Orange will still sell for $50, right next to the $50 sandwiches. This is convenient, because that's what it will take to finance the laser equipment.

Luckily, Reagan National, in DC, can just use shark-mounted lasers swimming in the Potomac River.

Congratulations is in order! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709799)

Congratulations Mega Man!

YOU GET BUBBLE SHIELD

**poit** **poit**

It would make sense for all sites to communicate (5, Funny)

aschoeff (864154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709800)

...and I propose they do this via some sort of dedicated network that controls them all, say, Skynet?

Re:It would make sense for all sites to communicat (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709899)

Multi-billion dollar defense contractors are trying to protect our nations (and the Jews) transportation infrastructure and you're making fucking jokes?!

Protect the Airports? (4, Insightful)

aslate (675607) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709802)

Unless this "shield" protects the airport from terrorists attempting to board a plane, what use are they? When was the last time a plane crashed into an airport building? Now if this was the White House or tother big military places, sure, but your standard domestic airport? Why?

Re:Protect the Airports? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709838)

It is more about protecting aircraft from ground launch short range missiles (shoulder launched, etc.) then for shooting down aircraft. Most transport / commercial aircraft are only really vulnerable when landing and taking off since they spend more of flight time well above short range surface to air missiles.

Re:Protect the Airports? (0)

nickheart (557603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709844)

Yeah, i know, i can't think of a single time we have had an attack on an airport.

But the "world" (I.E. : the world according to the saps that get all their info from FOX news) is scared now. This is a reasonable defence to the possibility that some "tare-ist" group is going to exploit the fact that we have not had surface to surface attacks on airports yet.

Re:Protect the Airports? (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709903)

Missile targeting of planes has been a concern for a while, but I wonder if a 5KM radius is sufficient...

Re:Protect the Airports? (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709856)

Because Smallpox vaccine doesn't protect against the common cold, what's the point of vaccination?

Re:Protect the Airports? (5, Informative)

dilbert researcher (901952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709869)

The main reason behind deploying the shields at airports is, to prevent terrorists from using hand-held rocket launchers. These rocket launchers can be used to destroy planes that are at a low altitude. Low altitude planes are easily sighted around airports when they are about to land or take-off. Hence domestic airports are a big market for these systems.

Re:Protect the Airports? (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709942)

Shoulder-launched AAMs are relatively cheap and plentiful. They've already busted rings of terrorist wannabes trying to buy a few and use them to bring down commercial airlines. Nobody knows how effective these kind of weapons are against large passenger jets, but I sure wouldn't want to find out first-hand.

I think this is a bigger threat than terrorists boarding an airplane - the easiest way to get yourself torn to pieces by 100 strangers is to stand up on a US ariliner and say "this is a hijacking". 9/11 would never have been so costly if the passengers weren't following outdated "rules of engagement".

Now, having said that, I will say I doubt this kind of system would be more cost effective than beefing up our border and port security.

Re:Protect the Airports? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 8 years ago | (#15710032)

AAMs or SAMs? The Stinger and SA-7/14/18 are SAMs. The Sidewinder, Phoenix and Atoll are an AAMs.

Tastes like chicken! (3, Funny)

corndogg (741610) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709803)

Just imagine... juicy cooked tidbits will simply drop from the sky... time to buy a convertible!

New safety notice for pilots (4, Funny)

mikael (484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709806)

Do not look into laser with remaining eye

I'm unconfortable with this (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709809)

I don't think that we should trust a protective shield with a metric radius in the U.S.

Learn to spell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709811)

It is spelled "Israel". Please have a little respect for the country you mention.

Re:Learn to spell (1)

nickheart (557603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709875)

Listen, i have been trying to learn to spell for over 2 decades. I can't get it, i'm sorry. I'm sure the person you are attempting to attack has a similar delema. Sorry, on behalf of all the peeps in the world that just don't understand why
"I before E except after C, except when it's a word that doesn't originate from the romantic languages, and except when it's just not correct to follow the rule"
is supposed to be a rule

don't get me started on A before E......

Re:Learn to spell (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709984)

I'm not the referenced poster, but I apply all the respect due a genocidal country that mutilates or kills innocent unarmed children. Against the Geneva Convention no matter how you try to twist the rationale. We must spell its name correctly:

"I as in Ignorant - S as in Sociopathic - R as in rapacious - A as in apartheid - E as in egomaniacal - L as in losers". Hope you're happy it's spelled correctly.

Based on worthless technology? (1, Flamebait)

dave562 (969951) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709816)

Skyguard grew out of the Tactical High Energy Laser, or THEL, designed to shield Israel's northern communities from Katyusha rockets and artillery shells.

If the technology was developed in Israel, then how come the Israeli's are whining about their towns getting hit by Palestinian fired rockets? Seems to me like the technology needs some more testing.

Re:Based on worthless technology? (2, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709957)

Flamebait, my ass.

I was wondering how the advancement of high energy laser beams powerful enough and accurate enough to destroy "rockets, mortars, artillery shells, unmanned aerial vehicles, short-range ballistic missiles, as well as cruise missiles" has managed to progress this far without anyone hearing about it. Also, if this technology actually works, why are any of the tests by North Korea bothering anybody near them. I mean, if you can shoot anything down with a laser, who gives a flip if they lob a small rocket or two towards you.

You have, of course, hit the mark with the Palestinian rocket issue. The entire west bank border is only 300km long. For less than $2B they could protect the entire border from rocket attacks. Which means that either (a) Israel doesn't care about bombings or (b) it doesn't work with shit. I'm betting on (b).

Can I safely assume this is for military applicati (3, Insightful)

Murphy Murph (833008) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709820)

The company I work does more airport approach clearance surveys than anyone else in the United States. I'm not sure how Northrop can claim they will be able to offer 20km protection against shoulder-fired missiles. I'm not sure how they could offer 2km protection.
While most airports have a great view of everything more than 20-30 feet in the air, many are in congested areas where there is no way they would be able to see an individual with a Stinger. Since shoulder-fired missiles seem to be the most plausible form of attack, I simply can't see how this system offers much protection at all to urban/suburban commercial airports.

Re:Can I safely assume this is for military applic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709909)

Once the missle is in the air, it is tracked by radar and the laser cooks it. The system is to protect against the missle hitting a plane, not the act of firing that missle.

Re:Can I safely assume this is for military applic (2, Informative)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709919)

They don't need to see the Stinger prior to launch. The system has sufficient time to detect a high speed object on a vector towards an aircraft, or towards the facility, and to then target the system while in flight.

Re:Can I safely assume this is for military applic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15710001)

On paper, you mean.

Re:Can I safely assume this is for military applic (1)

Murphy Murph (833008) | more than 8 years ago | (#15710013)

Even a missile launched from a distance of only a couple hundred yards?
    Impressive if so.
    I wasn't thinking of shooting down a plane hundreds or even thousands of feet up, but one having just taken off or landing. I know the damage potential of an extremely low altitude hit would be greatly reduced, but the intended terror effect would still be achieved.

Do they work? (4, Insightful)

SeanMon (929653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709827)

I would like to see solid evidence that they are effective and that they eliminate a threat before the government pours billions into this technology.

Re:Do they work? (4, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709847)

I don't think you get this whole "government" thing. See, they already have the money. Why would they give a flying fuck what you think?

Re:Do they work? (1)

nickheart (557603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709954)

i have points, but i can't use'em since i already posted on this thread.

mod parent up!!!

Re:Do they work? (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709986)

You and me both. Actually, I would have preferred that there was some solid evidence that the War in Iraq would be effective and would eliminate a threat before the government poured trillions of dollars into it. I'm guessing that they'll drop a few billion of your tax dollars on this without another thought. A few billion is a drop in the bucket as far as defense is concerned.

Now, if we could only get our duly elected officials to protect us from REAL threats... like broken levies in major metropolitan areas, lack of affordable healthcare, homelessness, etc.

Re:Do they work? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709998)

They have been testing them with the stargate for the past few years

Spelling (2, Funny)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709831)

I believe that the other nation named is usually spelled "Israel".

Eye used Opera's spell cheque on the post

Remember it does not have to work to fit the bill (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709839)

First thing - this technology has never actually worked in a carefully controlled test, but it will be on sale!

Remember folks - it does not actually have to work when the criteria is to spend money on anti-terrorism devices to show that you care. It is just more silicon snake oil - what more can you expect in an environment where intelligence agencies are using voodoo such as polygraph tests and pretend they are a highly accurate way of telling the truth, reading minds or whatever is the fashionable delusion these days.

We need better science education to stop the people who control the public purse getting sucked in by confidence tricks.

Re:Remember it does not have to work to fit the bi (1, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709990)

this technology has never actually worked in a carefully controlled test, but it will be on sale!

Kinda like Oracle.

KFG

Re:Remember it does not have to work to fit the bi (1)

beaub (988568) | more than 8 years ago | (#15710041)

Northrop has already proven it has the ability to counter airborne projectiles with ground-based lasers. The whole ABL project may have serious difficulties, but the THEL project (and projects like it) certainly have the ability to better protect our airports.

A license to print money... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709841)

Number of US airports (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fiel ds/2053.html): 14,893
Major US airports (http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp): Approx. 40
US airports with international flights (http://aerospace.web.mtsu.edu/usinternational.htm ): At least 72

Minimum likely cost using low-ball $25 million per airport figure and only major airports: US$1 billion
Mid-range likely cost using higher $30 million per airport figure, and all international airports in the US: US$2.16 billion
Realistic projection, expecting a 50% cost overrun, and ~100 airports: US$4.5 billion
Potential maximum even if cost per airport is reduced to 1/10th the lowest projection, and only 1 in 4 US airports is protected: US$9.3 billion.

All this just to stop something that's never happened on US soil, and AFAIK never successfully happened elsewhere (terrorists using a missile to shoot down a commercial passenger aircraft). Who said terrorism was bad? It sure as heck is good business if you're Northrop...

Reminds me of the Ur-Quan (1)

mangledspine (172332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709846)

First airports, then entire cities. Who thinks that perhaps we're going to be at this stage [sourceforge.net] before too long?

Poor birds (2, Funny)

Marcos Eliziario (969923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709848)

I see a new fast-food chain based on that: JFK Fried Chicken, (or ducks... or whatever..._)

2 part question (1)

raging_fist (988560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709854)

1. Will it work on North Korea
2. Taepodong joke.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709860)

Why do we have to develop this with Israel? Why do we work with a country that is as bad on the relegious extreme as the rest of the middle east? Maybe like Japan who has a need for this at the moment.

Pointless. (4, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709861)

Given what we have seen of insurgent guerilla tactics in Iraq, popping RPGs at departing flights would bring do wn a plane. Perhaps not everyone on board will get killed because of the low altitude, but terrorism is all about terrorizing a population. That laser shield isn't going to do much, is it? Moreover, the laser is pointless unless it is deployed at all airports because terrorists with a man-portable surface to air missile would certainly do enough research to figure out which airports do not have the defense system and act accordingly. Or they would just go to Japan and knock down a plane bound for the United States. This appears to be more comfort food for a worried nation's spirit.

Re:Pointless. (3, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709962)

Given what we have seen of insurgent guerilla tactics in Iraq, popping RPGs at departing flights would bring do wn a plane. Perhaps not everyone on board will get killed because of the low altitude, but terrorism is all about terrorizing a population. That laser shield isn't going to do much, is it?

It's not a 'shield' (dome) over the airport.
"Northrop described Skyguard as capable of destroying rockets, mortars, artillery shells, unmanned aerial vehicles, short-range ballistic missiles, as well as cruise missiles. Against shoulder-fired missiles, which are relatively easy to heat with a laser and destroy, the protective shield would extend to a 20-kilometer radius"

Or they would just go to Japan and knock down a plane bound for the United States.

""If it goes that path, it's a very large market," he said, citing potential demand from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and what he called virtually any country facing a threat from a neighbor."

cheaper way (0, Flamebait)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709872)

It would be cheaper and easier if America and Israel fixed their foreign policies so that they'd bully less people and make less enemies.

Re:cheaper way (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709893)

It would be cheaper and easier if America and Israel fixed their foreign policies so that they'd bully less people and make less enemies.

Of course. Because you CAN please all of the people all of the time.

Re:cheaper way (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709898)

It would be even cheaper if assholes didn't resort to blowing up civilian targets to get attention! When you're done masturbating all over your irrational smugness, feel free to add a comment that can apply to the real world.

Re:cheaper way (2, Insightful)

ashooner (834246) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709963)

One simple adjustment to those respective policies would be something along the lines of "Don't invade other peoples' countries." Its kind of hard to wrap your head around, but I think we can do it.

Thanks I just won a bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709968)

My friend and I were debating if there were any real hippie's still left in the world. You sir just helped me win a dollar. Thank you for exercising the first ammendment, regardless of reason.

In what way is this a shield? (2, Funny)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709873)

It's a point defense system. I think the trekkies amounst us won't be amused by the mis-use of the term. I mean can it absorb phaser blasts?

Northrop's one simple request (4, Funny)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709878)

Airports with frickin' lasers on their heads!

But why... (3, Funny)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709892)

Why do airports need shielding from lasers?

semantics (1)

manzell (988562) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709900)

I hope you realize that when they say airport they don't mean a place where you can buy a neck pillow or rent a portable DVD player. Since Mr. Rumsfeld and Ashcroft have mentioned too us, airports aren't exactly our most vulnerable targets. Of course, since there is no reason that the system, even if it worked flawlessly, will ever be used - since it won't be designed to target a person in a crowd, and that an RPG or mortar or similar sized explosive will have a negligble effect on a commercial airport, AND that if our airports are under threat of true ballistic missles, well, then, we've got bigger problems than making sure Owen Wilson can get to LA fast enough to do the Daily Show and The Tonight Show back to back.

Re:semantics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15710009)

The Daily Show is shot in NY so he'd have to take 2 planes at least

Pointless technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709910)

There hasn't been a single case of an aircraft being taken down by a bubble.

Seems like technology overkill if you ask me.

So what happens... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15709925)

...when some hackzorz break into the net and start firing these laser systems, capable of frying a missile in flight, at the guys loading my luggage? Or the plane's engines/wings?

Give Israel +1 moderation (1)

thebigo195 (949864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709927)

A population smaller than Chicago and so many contributions to science in general and hi-tech in particular.

Isreal? (1)

mpathetiq (726625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709931)

Is the summary for real? It's Israel.

Does it work *now*? (3, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709932)

Is it 100% ready for full, zero defect deployment? Probably not. But then neither were aircraft, at first. Nor cars. Nor microwave ovens. Nor pretty much anything you can name.

Give it time. Some of these defense mechanisms WILL work. And work quite well.

Roger Roger (1)

Screwy1138 (976897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709940)

Gah! Visions of Gungans and Faamba dance in my head.

Meh, I suppose as long as it makes cool noises when the lasers hit it.

useless against low-tech threats (4, Insightful)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709960)

For example - the (normal) northbound departure from San Jose goes over about a jillion small industrial buildings and hard-to-inspect back alleys. A single person on one of the roofs under the departure route could badly damage departing aircraft with a rifle. A .223 or better would hole a wing (and fuel tank) with no trouble, and with good marksmanship, I doubt the Kevlar blade containment shields would stand up to a 50 cal round. No missile needed. No help from the can of laser whupass. Hell, the jihadi would probably even get away, although I understand that's supposed to be optional. How many billions are we going to spend on this? Do you feel safer? I didn't think so.

Re:useless against low-tech threats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15710030)

I never understand the logic to answers such as yours. It can't protect against 100% of possible attacks so it is worthless. What do you want? Perfection?

Hell, someone can put a nuke on a freighter, you don't need a missle shield. I guess NK proved that argument wrong. And I think your argument is just as flawed here.

What the heck? (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15709975)

What's the point of this system. It's designed to be mounted at the airport. What good will this do for the airplane that's flying several hundred miles away from the airport?

Shield != Point Defense (1)

daboman (304476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15710007)

Come on media people, this isn't hard to figure out..

This is A Shield [space.com]
This is A Point Defense System using a gun [metalstorm.com] .
Skyguard (or THEL as the Israelis call it) is A Point Defense System using a High Energy Laser [israeli-weapons.com] .

It may only be semantics, but that makes it no less irritating..

Terrible idea (5, Insightful)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15710017)

Weaponizing civilian installations such as airports is a horrible idea. Sooner or later this system will accidentally shoot down a civilian aircraft. It's like weaponizing cars. You think there won't be mishaps? Increasing the number of ways an airplane can crash does not decrease the overall airplane accident rate.

Perhaps we should concentrate our efforts on finding people who want to commit homocidal acts and imprisoning them.

Or maybe stop international policies which cause people to want to commit homocidal acts against our airports.

While I'm at it...maybe we should stop trying to identify all the people that are not homocidal maniacs in a brain-dead attempt to find the homocidal maniacs by a process of elimination...

Does fear run your life?

The country is called ISRAEL (0, Flamebait)

mi (197448) | more than 8 years ago | (#15710023)

"Isreal" is an anti-Israel slur.

Impractical (4, Insightful)

Goonie (8651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15710035)

This makes more sense than equipping every airliner in the US with anti-missile countermeasures, but not much.

I don't have an exact figure, but there are roughly 500 airports with commercial flights into and out of them in the United States. Some of them only have a couple of scheduled flights a day. At, say, $25 million a pop, it will cost $12.5 billion dollars to equip all those airports with such a system, plus operating costs (presumably you have to have at least one guy babysitting the thing).

And you pretty much have to install these things everywhere an airliner flies. Terrorists aren't stupid (well, actually the evidence is that most of them are, but that's another story. Assuming they're stupid isn't a good idea IMO). They'll realise that if these systems exist, they should pick somewhere that's unlikely to be equipped with it. So while the planes at LAX and La Guardia land and take off with laser-guarded safety, our friendly local terrorists cruise on down to Bum's Rush, Iowa, and take potshots at the one RJ that lands there every day.

But assume these things *do* get installed in every airport in the country. What do our terrorists do? They scrap plan A - missiles at airplane takeoff - and go to the equally lethal plan B, a couple of tonnes of explosives under the grandstand at the local high school football game. Or any one of plans C through ZZ. So we've blown 10 billion dollars to achieve very, very little.

This is almost a quintessential example of protecting against a movie plot threat [schneier.com] .

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