El Al Planes Due to Receive Anti-Missile System

, | updated: 21:56

Israel Aircraft Industries’ (IAI) Flight Guard anti-missile system for civilian airliners has passed the development stage and is currently being installed on El Al passenger jets according to a report by Globes.

El Al purchased the first systems from IAI subsidiary Elta Electronic Industries in recent weeks according to the Globes report and the system is expected to be installed on El Al’s Boeing 767s within two months. The Defense Ministry, which is paying for the purchase of the new systems, has budgeted 6 million shekels for El Al’s initial purchase of the systems. The estimated cost of one system is several hundred thousand dollars, which means that initially two systems will probably be installed.

In recent years, the Elta defense system has been installed on 160 planes in 12 countries. Among other things, the system has been installed on the Israeli Air Force’s Blackhawk helicopters, cargo planes around the globe, and private jets for heads of state.

The push for the installation of the system on civilian aircraft intensified following Al Qaida’s unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Arkia Airlines passenger plane taking off from the Mombassa Airport in Kenya in November 2002. Following the attempt, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the Ministry of Defense to adapt the military defense system for passenger planes.

The scramble to neutralize the threat of shoulder launched surface-to-air missiles may prove profitable for Israel’s defense industries. The first operational system is taking place only 18 months after development began and defense industry foresees great potential for selling this product to defense systems in the global civil aviation market.