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Anti-Missile Technology To Be Tested on Commercial Jets

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the because-our-airline-tickets-were-too-cheap dept.

The Military 490

Hugh Pickens writes "As many as three American Airlines passenger jets will be outfitted this spring with laser technology intended to protect planes from missile attacks. The tests, which could involve more than 1,000 flights, will determine how the technology holds up under the rigors of flight. The technology is intended to stop attacks by detecting heat from missiles, then responding in a fraction of a second by firing laser beams to jam the missiles' guidance systems. A Rand study in 2005 estimated it would cost about $11 billion to protect every US airliner from shoulder-fired missiles. Over 20 years, the cost to develop, procure and operate anti-missile systems could hit $40 billion."

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490 comments

how many? (1)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936418)

40 billion, spread over how many aircraft, and paid for by how many hundreds of thousands of airline tickets and freight bills?

Re:how many? (5, Insightful)

InvalidError (771317) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936848)

Since the airplane laser is there to "jam" the missiles' optical/IR tracking instead of destroying them, it should certainly be possible to redesign the missiles' guidance system to use the airplane's anti-missile jamming laser as a homing beacon, turning the defense mechanism into a practical bull's eye target.

Since laser light is directional, a simple pin-hole shadow mask in front of a CCD would be enough to compute a satisfactory approach vector to keep the target within re-capture range.

Like many DHS and other agencies' schemes, they may initially look good on paper (particularly to the uninformed public) but are likely to be proven worthless money sinkholes practice since they rely on the premise that terrorists will be unable to adapt... much like the MPAA was banking on AACS, HDCP and BD+ never being broken. At best, I think this is a $40B money scheme to make the promoters' friends richer.

Re:how many? (1, Insightful)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936900)

Yes, and Akabar with his old Cold War era shoulder launched missile is going to make the modifications himself.

So... (4, Funny)

Cally (10873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936422)

...will the passengers on these airlines be told that SAMs will be launched at them in order to test the anti-missile defences?

Re:So... (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936458)

I know you're just joking, but the article actually points out that testing will occur only on flights with no passengers.

Re:So... (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936482)

And did anyone think about what will happen when these planes are specifically hijacked by terrorists in order to fly into a tall building fitted with an anti-air missile system?
We're through the looking glass here people...

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936612)

And did anyone think about what will happen when these planes are specifically hijacked by terrorists in order to fly into a tall building fitted with an anti-air missile system?
We're through the looking glass here people...
A passenger jet is not going to be able to outmaneuver a fighter jet. There is nothing a passenger jet can do to stop a fighter jet from destroying it. If an F-15 fired a Sidewinder missile at a passenger jet from 2 km, the anti-missile decoys probably wouldn't have even left the tubes by the time the missile hits.

Re:So... (1)

Brandano (1192819) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936724)

If an F15 was to get at 2km from its target he'd go winchester (use his cannon) or risk missing the target altogether. AA missiles are fast, but have a really hard time maneuvering. And tracking a "cold" target with an IR missile isn't easy either. Incidentally, I think RAF Nimrods are armed with a couple of sidewinders for self defence, so I guess it can have a chance of evading a missile if it has a chance of firing one

Re:So... (5, Interesting)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936770)

no. AA missiles have a perfectly fine time manoeuvering. Something about not having to worry about a 9G turn limit. Not only that, commercial airplanes aren't exactly manoeuverable to begin with. They don't have to be, it's nearly impossible to make them so, so they aren't. Intercepting will be no problem. Especially if they use a radar guided missile. The point of putting in the IR spoofing mechanism is to protect planes from manportable systems (which are pretty much all IR guided) during take off/landing (because manportable systems cannot reach up to cruising height, and presumably any larger threats would be picked up because they're BIG and hard to smuggle).

Re:So... (1)

Veinor (871770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936896)

The lasers go on the planes, they're not being fired at the planes.

Re:So... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936512)

...will the passengers on these airlines be told that SAMs will be launched at them in order to test the anti-missile defences?

Only if they don't live.
   

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936964)

The live fire testing is done by mounting the unit to a carriage on a cable between to mountains. The missiles are fired at it while it slings along.
IIFTJ -I interviewed for the job! (and turned down the offer!)

Yes but... (0, Redundant)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936424)

...does it include a fishtank with sharks?

Exactly, it will never work (2, Interesting)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936752)

About as useful as having a lifejacket under your seat. A large commercial jet has never managed to make a water landing. If they are in a good enough state to consider that, then they can normally find some bit of land to crash the plane into. If not then you are dead already.

It is just about fear and using fear to control you. Look we protect you with these nonsense lasers. They can't even shoot missiles down with hug stationary lasers in heavily controlled tests, so they have no chance in real life on the butt of a commercial airliner, no chance.

I take that back - it is a fantastic plan. (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936782)

BAE Systems of Britain said yesterday that it won a $29 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security... BAE has received more than $100 million in funding for aircraft-protection systems.

Money moving from American government to British company, it seems to be working already.

Re:Exactly, it will never work (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936854)

About as useful as having a lifejacket under your seat. A large commercial jet has never managed to make a water landing.

Wrong. [youtube.com]

Don't you feel stupid now?

Re:Exactly, it will never work (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936984)

I found that clip hilarious, then I looked down at the info and saw that 125 were on board and 100% fatalities. Then I felt a bit guilty. I go sit in the corner.

What is wrong with America & American Airlines (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936438)

Not a single passenger jet has been downed from the type of missiles these "high power lasers" are supposed to be able to prevent. Not a single one.

Israeli lobby (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936502)

This is the work of the Israeli lobby. The technology used is designed by and used on El-Al (the national Israeli airline). They've been heavily campaigning in the US for a contract. Quite frankly those $11 billion dollars belong somewhere else.

Re:Israeli lobby -- mod up (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936720)

Parent AC is correct. The Israeli government has been sinking fortunes into this, and wants the US to help foot the bill (even more than the US is already footing the bill for Israel's security). If US airliners adapt this sort of technology on a large scale it will mean 1) AIPAC has been successful in their lobbying efforts; 2) the 'taxes and surcharges' portion of airline tickets will again increase to protect us ever more diligently from such dangers as water, toothpaste, spare batteries and dual-purpose terrorist tools like nail clippers or needlenose pliers; and 3) that the US as a culture has got their paranoia so screwed as to fear a random freak on a rooftop with an RPG (which has never happened in the US nor to a US airliner) more than they fear real US-style craziness like getting shot up at work or at the shops.

Re:Israeli lobby (4, Informative)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936790)

This is the work of the Israeli lobby. The technology used is designed by and used on El-Al (the national Israeli airline). They've been heavily campaigning in the US for a contract. Quite frankly those $11 billion dollars belong somewhere else.

The article says that the system being tested was developed by BAE which is a British company.

Hard to see how BAE could be very close to an Israeli defense company given that 1) the largest single contract BAE has outside NATO is to supply aircraft to Saudi Arabia and 2) the UK government imposed a partial embargo on sales of military equipment to Israel after Israel broke a previous undertaking not to use UK supplied arms in the occupied territories.

This is not about pork, that will come later on. Its about trying to create the illusion of safety and quite likely give a pump to the start wars boondoggle. Its a pretty idiotic idea regardless. The way to stop people shooting down planes is to hand out a slotting to anyone who does: an accountability approach.

Re:Israeli lobby (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936924)

The way to stop people shooting down planes is to hand out a slotting to anyone who does: an accountability approach.

What is a slotting?

Re:What is wrong with America & American Airli (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936556)

You are a terrorist, then?

Re:What is wrong with America & American Airli (1, Informative)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936634)

Not a single passenger jet has been downed from the type of missiles these "high power lasers" are supposed to be able to prevent. Not a single one.

You may want to reconsider that statement, Iran Air Flight 655 [wikipedia.org] . But granted, it was not an American flight. But you did mention type. But I would consider any such defence good other than the cost. At the $$$ they are talking about, a $5000 flight each way to pay for it sounds pricey.

Re:What is wrong with America & American Airli (4, Informative)

Matt_R (23461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936694)

You may want to reconsider that statement, Iran Air Flight 655.
You may want to reconsider that statement, Iran Air 655 was downed by a radar guided SAM [wikipedia.org] launched from a warship. These lasers are to stop man portable [wikipedia.org] IR guided missiles, and would do nothing to stop a radar guided missile

Re:What is wrong with America & American Airli (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936798)

Not a single passenger jet has been downed from the type of missiles these "high power lasers" are supposed to be able to prevent. Not a single one.

That won't prevent a company from creating a need to fill. If they do it right, they may even be eligible for government grants in their fight against the "terrorists".

What about TWA flight 800? (1)

laing (303349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936822)

I have no opinion as to whether or not there was a cover up, but it is interesting to note that there were never any safety bulletins from the FAA as a result of their investigation.

Re:What is wrong with America & American Airli (3, Interesting)

Brandano (1192819) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936916)

Not sure bout that. This incident http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerolinee_Itavia_Flight_870 [wikipedia.org] has not been cleared yet, and some radar tapes that could have been interesting have mysteriously disappeared, including those of an US carrier that was docked in the Naples port. And I have seen some impressive pictures of an Alitalia DC8 landing with a hole between the two left egines after being struck by an IR missile a few years earlier. Apparently the missile couldn't decide between the two engines and struck in the middle. Credit goes for the plane to hold together with both wing spars damaged and a fuel tank punched from side to side not catching fire.

No sharks involved? (0, Redundant)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936446)

I've got all of these frikken lasers lying around ready to be mounted on the sharks swimming in my backyard pool and some %@#^$ contractor with government connections comes in and steals the show. My sharks + really big rubber bands + frikken lasers are going to be much cheaper than this "anti-missle" technology. This is just pork barrel politics rewarding people & companies with "comfortable" ideas. How about we think "outside the box" and start shooting laser-equipped sharks at these missles... I mean, seriously, they've already got fins which are aerodynamic and they could probably fly several hundred miles given a big enough rubber band gun.

Just out of curiousity (1, Redundant)

epiphani (254981) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936454)

When has a commercial airliner been shot down by a missile? Or is this just someone trying to suck more money out of me when I fly again.

Re:Just out of curiousity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936516)

TWA 800

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/CRASH/TWA/twa.html [whatreallyhappened.com]

I was listening to a live radio broadcast when a caller reported seeing something come up from the horizon and hit the plane. This was less than two hours into the situation. Long before conspiracy mongers were able to get to him.

Re:Just out of curiousity (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936630)

I have also hear radio broadcasts were people were swearing that they saw a propeller plane hit the WTC.
Theres nothing less reliable than an eyewitness in a shocking situation.

Re:Just out of curiousity (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936636)

TWA 800

Most experts consider it due to a cheapskate fuel-tank design. It is mostly fringe groups that support the missile theory.
     

Re:Just out of curiousity (1)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936522)

I believe it's exactly zero. There were early reports of some airliner that may have been shot down by a missile, but it turned out to be mechanical failure.

Commercial airliners fly too high and too fast to be vulnerable to this. They would only be vulnerable during take-offs and landings where it would be better to defend the airfields. Even then, there hasn't been a single incident.

This is just wasted effort. It would be better to spend the 40 billion dollars on training security staff.

Re:Just out of curiousity (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936530)

About 4 seconds of Googling shows this kind of thing has happened before and can happen, e.g. this incident [boston.com] . Not really a commercial airliner in that case, but it could just as well have been.

Re:Just out of curiousity (2, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936956)

From your link: "Four days later, a Belarus official confirmed the plane had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade." The proposed system dazzles IR sensors with a laser. It would do nothing against RPG's, which are unguided.

Re:Just out of curiousity (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936540)

When has a commercial airliner been shot down by a missile? Or is this just someone trying to suck more money out of me when I fly again.

I've read about near misses in the Middle East. (A quick google failed to turn it up, need a deeper search...)
     

Re:Just out of curiousity (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936582)

wasn't there an airliner shot down over USSR airspace a few years ago? I can't seem to remember how it was shot down, but if it was a missile- that would be an example of it happening.

Re:Just out of curiousity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936628)

KAL 007

Re:Just out of curiousity (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936652)

US also shot down an iran passanger airplane with >200 people on board way back during the gulf-war...

A couple of times... (2, Insightful)

Goonie (8651) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936626)

The Wikipedia lists five [wikipedia.org] incidents where these missiles have allegedly been launched at civilian aircraft.

Of the four confirmed firings, two planes were shot down, one was hit but landed safely, and another missed entirely.

That said, there are likely to be ways that $10 billion could be spent to save more lives. For instance, your chances of surviving a heart attack are better in a casino than in a hospital [latimes.com] , because you're more likely to receive defibrillator treatment quickly in a casino. Would $10 billion spent there, or on making sure best practice for avoiding MRSA [wikipedia.org] infections was adopted nationwide, be a better investment? Almost certainly. But people place a far higher value on avoiding spectacular deaths than mundane ones.

Re:Just out of curiousity (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936672)

When has a commercial airliner been shot down by a missile? Or is this just someone trying to suck more money out of me when I fly again.


Indeed. If we spent 40 billion dollars on automatic self-driving cars, we could basically elliminate roadway accidents and save many thousands of lives. Or make a high speed train network that doesn't have the dangers or air travel. Or, we could just save 40 billion dollars and call it a victory. Spending 40 billion dollars to develop an anti missile system is just absurd given that it sort of theoretically might possibly save one plane load of people. I mean, saving that hundred people or so would be great, but the cost-benefit analysis is just fucking stupid.

Re:Just out of curiousity (0, Redundant)

fremsley471 (792813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936676)

When has a commercial airliner been shot down by a missile?

One for sure:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:Just out of curiousity (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936750)

It has been attempted. The most publishised case was an attack on an El Al aircraft in Kenia. Fortunately, that one had an anti-missile system installed and the two missiles were distracted.

Re:Just out of curiousity (1)

Knave75 (894961) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936774)

When has a commercial airliner been shot down by a missile?
In 2002, an attempt was made to nail an Israeli airline [freerepublic.com] . It was unsuccessful, or we would have heard more about it. Just pointing out that the concept is not completely far-fetched.

That said, I don't really care what they spend to save the rich flying-folk, as long as the taxpayers don't have to pay for such lunacy. If we are going to hemorrhage money saving people, I'd rather spend it in other, potentially more beneficial ways.

Re:Just out of curiousity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936960)

Frankly, I'd rather have the extra $40 million left in taxpayer's/flyer's pockets and lose a couple of planes with 200 people. People are not all that valuable in general... definitely not worth $100 million each. Most safety researchers use $2 million to $10 million per person max, when mandating safety changes.

What about... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936474)

...anti-nigger technology? When's that coming?

Can anyone spell... (1, Offtopic)

realdodgeman (1113225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936478)

HUGE FUCKING OVERKILL?

This is why you Americans need Ron Paul...

Re:Can anyone spell... (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936560)

This is why you Americans need Ron Paul...

Yeah, because evolution is also overkill.

Re:Can anyone spell... (1, Offtopic)

Lost+Found (844289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936688)

Congratulations on your criteria for picking a candidate. With a war raging out of control, soldiers and innocents dying, a national debt going through the roof, oil prices going out of control, the dollar dropping rapidly in value, the world becoming even more divisive and dangerous as the US throws its weight around, and civil liberties evaporating as fast as congress can pass bills they haven't read, you're concerned about a candidate's personal view on evolution? You might as well vote for Huckabee since he plays guitar.

Re:Can anyone spell... (1)

paxgaea (219419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936786)

Mike Huckabee plays bass, which everyone knows is nowhere near as cool as guitar. That's why he won't be getting my vote!

(Although, you would be accurate in arguing that technically a bass is a guitar.)

Seriously though, getting back to the topic, this seems like an idea thought up in some corporate boardroom to make someone alot of money while not really saving all that many lives. Nothing like covering symptoms rather than fixing actual problems. There are so many better uses for $40 Billion.

Re:Can anyone spell... (4, Insightful)

Veinor (871770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936942)

With credit to Pope Guilty of the SA forums: Ron Paul wants to define life as starting at conception [loc.gov] , build a fence along the US-Mexico border [house.gov] , prevent the Supreme Court from hearing Establishment Clause cases or the right to privacy [loc.gov] (which would bar atheists from holding office in Texas, prevent the striking down of antisodomy laws, prevent the government from spending any money to enforce its decisions, among many other things), pull out of the UN [loc.gov] , end birthright citizenship [loc.gov] , and abolish the Federal Reserve [loc.gov] in order to put America back on the gold standard [house.gov] . He was also the sole vote against divesting US federal government investments in corporations doing business with the genocidal government of the Sudan. [govtrack.us] Oh, and he believes that the Left is waging a war on religion and Christmas [lewrockwell.com] , he's against gay marriage [lewrockwell.com] , is against the popular vote [lewrockwell.com] , wants the estate tax repealed [lewrockwell.com] , is STILL making racist remarks [salon.com] , and believes in New World Order conspiracy theories [infowars.com] . He also said: "If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be" and "Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action."

Re:Can anyone spell... (3, Insightful)

realdodgeman (1113225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936744)

I don't care what his personal beliefs are.

I do not live in USA, but if Ron Paul becomes president it will at least be an option in a few years. For now I will stay in Norway where politicians are sensible and work for the good of the people.

Why do I care at all?
If USA implements Real ID it can spread to other countries. If the dollar crashes it will cause worldwide economic chaos. If the US keeps building bases all over the world, terrorism will become a increasingly bigger threat to the western world. If Iran gets attacked by the US nobody knows what is going to happen. If US politician keeps ignoring their constitution, the world's biggest super power may soon be a police state.

Re:Can anyone spell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936908)

I do not live in USA, but if Ron Paul becomes president it will at least be an option in a few years. For now I will stay in Norway where politicians are sensible and work for the good of the people.

You'll stay in Norway for now? Then why would there be any need for you to have an option to come to the USA at some point in the future?

Looking for somewhere to run to when your little problem with the followers of the prophet gets out of hand?

I'm goin' Greyhound. (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936484)

By the way this will likely go through without a hitch.
If they had proposed testing on a plane-ful of bunnies, it'd be stopped faster than Hitler.

Re:I'm goin' Greyhound. (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936528)

If they had proposed testing on a plane-ful of bunnies, it'd be stopped faster than Hitler.

You mean in less than 12 years?

Re:I'm goin' Greyhound. (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936568)

it'd be stopped faster than Hitler.
you mean after a long, drawn out war, in which millions are killed and left homeless? Were talking about a TIME person of the year here...

Terrorism cannot be avoided with these measures. (5, Insightful)

Cosmicalstorm (1124967) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936498)

A german police chief was asked on TV the day of the London bombings what extra measures should be taken. He said: "None. The measures are effective as they can be; we cannot avoid all terrorist attacks just as we cannot avoid all crime." I was impressed, He was a really intelligent man. A shame nobody bothered to inform the manufacturers and proponents of this system about this particular wisdom.

Re:Terrorism cannot be avoided with these measures (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936684)

A shame nobody bothered to inform the manufacturers and proponents of this system about this particular wisdom.

I'm betting they're already well aware, they just don't care. It's awfully hard to sell multi-million dollar systems if no one thinks there is a reason for them.

Re:Terrorism cannot be avoided with these measures (1)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936726)

A shame nobody bothered to inform the manufacturers and proponents of this system about this particular wisdom.

Why would they care? The manufacturers want to sell stuff. The proponents want to look as if they're Doing Something. Neither group particularly gives a damn whether the system works or not.

I think they already know... (3, Insightful)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936826)

> A shame nobody bothered to inform the manufacturers and proponents of this system about this particular wisdom.

You don't get people to pay you $11 billion by telling them that your product is a waste of time and money.

That said, I'm impressed that someone in law enforcement had the guts to be honest like that on TV. I wish we had some of them.

RPG Threat (3, Insightful)

moehoward (668736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936500)


The real threat is someone standing at the end of a runway (on a building top or in a road) and firing an RPG. Didn't the IRA do that? Seems that RPGs would be easier to get then frickin' heat-seeking missiles.

This seems like overkill given the threat level. I'm willing to live with the risk of heat-seeking missiles shooting me down in mid-flight.

Re:RPG Threat (1)

paxgaea (219419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936872)

Reading your post, a thought occurred to me. I think I rather agree with you on living with the risk of a heat seeking missile shooting me down in flight. Of all the issues/ways to die on cramped, stuffy, claustrophobic airplane ride I would much rather never know what hit me, have it be over with in about 2 to 3 seconds, and not live to be a maimed vegetable. In short, a heat seeking missile beats the hell out of a 2 to 3 minute harrowing hell ride into the ocean, or a fiery landing into the middle of a crowded urban area, or worse yet the sickening realization that I am the unwilling missile that is being used to kill thousands.

So as far as I am concerned the $40 billion is a waste.

A morbid thought, yes, but let's be realistic, these things happen.

Moar 9/11 plz! (2, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936504)

So if we legitimately have to shoot down an hijacked airliner as we should have in September 2001, we won't be able to shoot an AIM-9 at it, we'll have to get close enough in order to shoot it down with the fighter's gun?

Why test it on commercial jets when it'd be much more useful on military planes to say help with anti-missile countermeasures such as flares?

Re:Moar 9/11 plz! (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936656)

So if we legitimately have to shoot down an hijacked airliner as we should have in September 2001, we won't be able to shoot an AIM-9 at it, we'll have to get close enough in order to shoot it down with the fighter's gun?
I'm sure they haven't thought of having a signal broadcast from a satellite to turn off the anti-missile technology on a plane-by-plane basis, fully encrypted up the wazoo to prevent unauthorized use. Think OnStar(TM) for airlines.
 

Re:Moar 9/11 plz! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936904)

I'm sure they haven't thought of having a signal broadcast from a satellite to turn off the anti-missile technology on a plane-by-plane basis, fully encrypted up the wazoo to prevent unauthorized use.

I'm sure they have, but on the other hand, what if the hijacker climbs down into the avionics room and bypasses the security? Or just disconnects the antenna? The GP has a valid point. Such a defense could easily work against us, and given the way the government has been handling security theater to date, it probably would be. Besides, we are talking about putting military defense systems on civilian aircraft, under civilian maintenance programs. That doesn't seem wise to me. High-powered lasers on aircraft also doesn't sound wise to me: a specular reflection off an incoming missile or another aircraft could blind a lot of people.

Other Options (1)

Mutatis Mutandis (921530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936930)

Actually, I doubt that the simple jammer installed on an airliner would be able to defeat the seeker heads of a modern AIM-9 variant that easily. But presumably a fighter jet would first get close enough to the target to do a visual inspection, which would mean that it would be well within gun range. And besides that, most US fighters carry AIM-120 as well, which does not use IR for guidance or fusing, so would be reasonably effective.

The other side of the issue is that, of course, not all man-portable air defense missiles (MANPADs) are infrared guided, and a smart terrorist would respond to this measure by picking one that isn't. Stocks of Blowpipe have been found in Afghanistan -- It wasn't good enough to fight the Soviets, but would still be able to down an airliner.

Re:Moar 9/11 plz! (1)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936974)

I started out writing to argue that you were unreasonable. However, I checked the figures.
An AIM-9 has a radius of at most about 20km. A 767 can go, what, 1000km/h at full power at 35,000ft cruise altitude? A F-15 can go 2,655km/h at similar altitude. That 20km distance can be covered in 43 seconds. Even 200km possible with an AIM-54 can be covered in about 7'15''. (Yes, this will all tip in favor of the passenger jet at low altitude. I'm not sure of its maximum speed at 10,000ft, so I'm working with the figures I have). So if the hijacking could be committed close to the target, then yes, it could probably be pulled off.
On the other hand, I must wonder how effective this system would be against air-to-air missiles? First of all, the field of view may be lacking when attacked from any angle, and secondly they may be larger and carry equipment to make them more resistant to jamming. Hm.

Suddenly, the plans make sense (1)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936510)

Sharks with Laser Beams. For disrupting torpedos. Dr. Evil's going underwater with his next base, mark my words.

Feed the fear (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936526)

Politicians, particularly right wing, love fear and feeding the "we're under attack" myth. It makes people vote "the right way" - important in an election year. It also lubricates the process for pork barrel spending.

As others have pointed out, this is all rather silly since missile attacks do not constitute a large threat. Still, it should be easy to pressure the decision makers to adopt this technology. Imagine if you were to have vetoed this technology and a plane got shot down. Far easier to spend Joe Citizen''s money. After all, $11bn is only $30-odd per US citizen.

Re:Feed the fear (3, Informative)

Ada_Rules (260218) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936640)

I know this is slashdot and we love to hit the "right wing" but the biggest supporters of this stuff are Chuck Schumer (D)

http://www.senate.gov/~schumer/SchumerWebsite/schumer_around_ny/record.cfm?id=264754& [senate.gov]

and Barbara Boxer (D)

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=politics&id=4447425 [go.com]

Of course what is really happening with these two is that they don't care that much about the technology or the program but by pushing for it they can say "I told you so" if anything were to get shot down.

Re:Feed the fear (1)

Pooch Bushey (895121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936922)

the first part of the second-to-the-last sentence sums it all up: "Congress has approved funding for anti-missile research partly out of *fear* ..."

encourage nut case zealots to stop shooting at US (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936534)

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/01/06/mcgovern-time-to-impeach-bush/#comments [cnn.com]

let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [yahoo.com]

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A [nytimes.com]

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

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Umm, isn't that the opposite of what you want? (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936536)

Number of passenger planes shot down by heat seeking missiles: 0
Number of passenger planes used as missiles: 3

So, err, don't you want the ability to shoot down passenger planes? Or is the next step to install "special" missiles on buildings that might have passenger planes flown into them in the future which can bypass the anti-missile system? And if that's the plan, what's to stop them bad guys (who are under every bed) from using those missiles to shoot down the planes?

Re:Umm, isn't that the opposite of what you want? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936936)

According to wikipedia, it is 1, maybe 2 ( I think 2 )
        * 1993 Transair Georgian Airline shootdowns involved two separate aircraft shot down a day apart in Sukhumi, Abkhazia, Georgia, killing 108 people.[14]
        * 2002 Mombasa airliner attack - On November 28, 2002, two shoulder-launched Strela 2 (SA-7) surface-to-air missiles were fired at another chartered Boeing 757 airliner as it took off from Moi International Airport. The missiles missed the aircraft, carrying 271 vacationers from Mombasa back to Israel, and it continued safely to Tel Aviv.
        * 2003 Baghdad DHL shootdown incident - On 22 November 2003, an Airbus A300B4-203F cargo plane, operating on behalf of DHL was hit by a SAM-7 missile, which resulted in the loss of its hydraulic systems. The crew later landed the crippled aircraft safely by using only differential engine thrust by adjusting the individual throttle controls of each engine.
        * 2007 Mogadishu TransAVIAexport Airlines Il-76 crash - On March 23, 2007, a TransAVIAexport Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 airplane crashed in outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, during the 2007 Battle of Mogadishu. Witnesses claim that a surface-to-air missile was fired immediately prior to the accident. However, Somalian officials deny that the aircraft was shot down.

Why? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936546)

Why do all of you people detracting from this hate freedom? Do you want the terrorists to win?

Unless some defence contractor can make $40 billion out of this, the terrorists have already won.

uncle SAM (3, Funny)

garlicbready (846542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936558)

when someone leans across and says
what's that noise?
just say don't worry it's just uncle SAM

a cheaper way might be to paint clouds on the side of the aircraft for camouflage
or if it's a green laser they're using how about some luminous green paint
to be honest I'd think it would be slightly cheaper to try and avoid a situation where someone wants to fire missiles at you in the first place (usually it's a good idea)

Re:uncle SAM (1)

XiX36 (715429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936722)

"I'd think it would be slightly cheaper to try and avoid a situation where someone wants to fire missiles at you in the first place" No, the best way of ridding the world of terrorism is just to kill everybody. Side bonus is that you also end 100% of crime, divorce, child abuse, and the global warming debate. Seriously though, this sounds like an idea that only applies to a specific type of weapon system being used against a civilian aircraft. So you stop heat seeking or laser guided missiles.. I don't think terrorists have access to the best weapons out there. Chances are they would use something cheap, easily concealed, and has an accuracy of "close enough". After spending billions of dollars on this system, a SAM with a cheap tv camera/transmitter and a proximity sensor duct-taped to the nose of it combined with radio controlled airplane parts would be the obvious work-around. While I think terrorists are reprehensible, and we should obviously protect ourselves as best we can, these billions could be better spent elsewhere...

Re:uncle SAM (1)

Brandano (1192819) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936850)

Indeed. They'd just use a 20mm gun on the approach or departure path, and you can't do anything to stop bullets. If you only have a range of 4 or 5 km, why would you need a guided weapon to down such a giant lumbering beast? AA guns worked well enough for bombers in WW2, and nowadays predictor gunsights are much more efficient (and cheaper!)

OR... we could stop screwing over people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936566)

across the world... then they won't feel the need to attack non military targets... oh never mind. Most probably won't get such a RADICAL idea.

Re:OR... we could stop screwing over people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936704)

given the number of suicide bombers in muslim countries, no they won't get such a RADICAL idea. Muslims won't attack an army just innocent civilians. it doens't matter what religion those civilians believe in either. (just look at the car bombs attacks in Iraq)

Why lasers? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936586)

Why are they using lasers? Run-of-the-mill shoulder-fired missiles are usually fooled by fire-cracker-like flares. Are they over-spending on this?

Is it April 1st already? (3, Funny)

Bovineck (200068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936588)

In other news, New Zealand equips all tractors with laser guided missiles to protect against terrorist sheep; and in Barbados the government combats terrorism by issuing tape recorders designed to look like coconuts to all citizens.

The truly insane keep doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result...

Re:Is it April 1st already? (4, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936778)

In other news, New Zealand equips all tractors with laser guided missiles to protect against terrorist sheep

Thank you for one of the funniest mental images I've yet gotten from a slashdot post. Particularly since my imagination expanded on the scenario and had sheep after sheep with dynamite trapped to them throwing themselves at a tractor which kept zapping them with a laser. Would that I had Flash animation abilities. *sigh*

They are weapons (3, Interesting)

gznork26 (1195943) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936606)

The official description may be that they are defensive, that they are only for jamming the guidance systems of enemy missiles, but they are weapons nonetheless. Once the public has swallowed the innocuous cover story, they can install much more capable systems on commercial aircraft. Any aircraft with weapons installed by the 'Defense" Department is military by nature, regardless of whether it carries civilian passengers. Those passengers will serve as human shields to cow others from shooting down these planes.

Any nation that allows US commercial aircraft into their airspace has suddenly agreed to letting the US military overfly their countries. Aircraft can be flown by remote control, including commercial aircraft with weapons. This is an extremely dangerous precedent. If another nation tried this, the US government would refuse them entry. Other nations are likely to respond the same way.

Think of it as closing the US borders by coercing other nations to do it for us.

How WILL these be tested? (2, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936620)

"The use of a signal to mimic a missile attack has already been tested in the air, said Tim Wagner, an American Airlines spokesman." Yeah, right. So they're not going to test it with real missile, which doesn't give a lot of confidence that it will actually work.

Sounds like that "successful" antimissile test they did a year or so ago, where the missile was conveniently equipped with a GPS unit that continuously radioed its position to the antimissile system.

On the other hand, are they going to use signals to "mimic" things that are not missile attacks... like near-miss encounters with other passenger jets, for example?

"Burt Keirstead, director of BAE's commercial airline protection program, said BAE's contract requires it to prove that Jeteye will operate without failure for 3,000 hours of flight, and sets a goal of 4,500 hours."

What constitutes a failure? If it shoots at a Medivac helicopter and brings it down, did it succeed or fail?

one problem... (1)

TheSlashaway (1032228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936686)

If another plane, building or other object emits heat, the airplane may shoot it down. Terrorists may use this against the plane. They could turn a laser protected plane into an offensive weapon. Not that they never tried that before... ;-)

I guess (1)

^DA (82715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936690)

I guess laser guided missiles will be popular among terrorists now :)

Looting of our treasury (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936706)

This is another example of using fear to loot our tax dollars and put them in the pockets of a chosen few greedy defense contractors.

If the US government really wanted to protect the flying public, then they would spend more on hiring air traffic controllers, and step up maintenance inspections.

How much per pound are they charging for this laser system. If any one would really look into the pricing of this, they would find it costs very little to develop and manufacture, and almost all the tax money we are spending for this is just sent directly into the pockets of fat cat contributors.

When will the American people wake up to being robbed by using fear?

Cheers

point defense saturation (2, Interesting)

usrusr (654450) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936746)

all those other perfectly valid points aside - setting up those systems costs 11 billion (projected). but what does it cost the other side to get past them? if "they" can get one SAM, "they" will also be able to get three, practically for free in comparison to the cost of the defense systems. and high power laser systems, in contrast to what scifi movies try to make us believe, are rarely able to engage multiple targets in short succession. it's also not that far fetched to imagine a quickly rigged prototype guidance system that would not be influenced by laser blinding, also for a fraction of the cost of those billions.

the good new is that according to the article the airline running those tests seems to be also very sceptical of those systems.

talk about crappy risk assessment (3, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936804)

Let's see, 50,000 people a year in the USA die in car accidents. NONE have died from stinger missiles, but the war machine wants to keep people afraid and docile, so they'll spend billions on a defence that will likely never be needed, or if it is, will only kill a microscopic fraction of the total number of people who have ever flown.

In the meantime, they cut out all the funding for alternative energy funding in the last bill, so the USA can continue to be dependent on the oil tha sits under the homes and deserts of the people they want to defend their airliners against. Do we detect a pattern of utter stupidity here?

RS

Interesting Set of Planning Priorities (1)

weston (16146) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936816)

If they're going to go out for that, I'd hope they'd also include one of the whole-airplane parachutes people were talking about a few years ago. Seems to me like your typical accidental in-flight failure is much more common than a missile attack.

Sounds like another Corporate handout to me (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936934)

Airliners are HUGE aircraft. Plus, they have redundant engines. Plus, the types of SAM systems we're probably worried about are shoulder launched since terrorists aren't going to be able to acquire or move larger systems. These smaller warheads probably can't take down an airliner under reasonable conditions. That all adds up to a waste of money to me.

Hmm, this sounds familiar (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936962)

Perhaps they're competing with Boeing [slashdot.org] ....

I feel sorry for the passengers (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936966)

You would think that getting test missiles shot at them all the time would make passengers avoid that airline

Frickin' (1)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936986)

But can they be attached to sharks?

No military track record (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21937002)

Neither of the systems mentioned in subsequent research has ever been fielded in a combat environment.

Long and short of it: it is unproven.

Never mind the fact that there has never been an airliner downed by a MANPAD in the US.

Regardless, consumers will refuse to fund AA in this venture. If AA's costs rise, they will just fly on another airline.

Nanny-ocracy at its best. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21937004)

Nanny-ocracy at its best.
Life is hazardous to your health.
Get over it. No amount of military funding will prevent terrorists and spending money for hardware to "protect" us is stupid. Put more money into killing them all and all their family members who believe this is a way to heaven.

My brother-in-law fell off a ladder yesterday and died. There are 22k people still alive with SCI, http://www.spinalcord.org/ [spinalcord.org] - rather than waste this money on something for 400 people at a time, an airliner, take all that money and put it towards SCI instead. Or the pediatric brain tumor foundation http://www.pbtfus.org/ [pbtfus.org] or the Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/ [redcross.org] .

There is no protection from a suicide bomber.
- President Musharraf
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