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Anti-Missile Defenses For Commercial Jets 594

Posted by kdawson
from the asymetrical-warfare dept.
The AP reports that the first anti-missile defense system has been installed for testing on a commercial jet, a FedEx cargo carrier. 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. 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, at a cost of billions of dollars. Is this good common sense or the costly future of a society hobbled by fear of terrorism?
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Anti-Missile Defenses For Commercial Jets

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  • Anyone know (Score:5, Interesting)

    by solevita (967690) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:01PM (#17665362)
    When the last time this system would have saved an aircraft?
  • by Monkeyman334 (205694) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:02PM (#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.
  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:04PM (#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.
  • Made in California? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spike2131 (468840) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:08PM (#17665500) Homepage
    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?
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:10PM (#17665546) Journal
    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 [iht.com]? 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:Anyone know (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:13PM (#17665596) Journal
    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.
  • by giafly (926567) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:14PM (#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?
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:26PM (#17665882) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by cliffski (65094) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:33PM (#17665990) Homepage
    If for planes, why not trains? If I was a terrorist, I'd skip airports entirely, far too many cameras and police. I'd target a high speed intercity train. If I time it right, I should be able to blast a 125mph train into pieces on a high speed track, in time to cause major derailments from other trains. Given that during commuter times, there could easily be 200-300 people on each train, I'd easily rack up the same body count as I would by hitting an airliner (assuming the airliner didn't crash into a tower block).
    And I can hit the train from pretty much anywhere along it's route.

    Trying to make us all immune to terrorist attacks is just impractical. We are treating the symptom, not the disease.
  • by nido (102070) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <65odin>> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:47PM (#17666276) Homepage
    It just has to be something that counteracts the fear that some Americans live with.

    The simple fact of the matter is that there is nothing to be afraid of, and Americans are only afraid because of the corporate media propaganda machine.

    A False Sense of Insecurity? [pdf] [cato.org] [google cache] [216.239.59.104]:

    Throughout all this, there is a perspective on terrorism that has been very substantially ignored. It can be summarized, somewhat crudely, as follows:
    • Assessed in broad but reasonable context, terrorism generally does not do much damage.
    • The costs of terrorism very often are the result of hasty, ill-considered, and overwrought reactions.
    A sensible policy approach to the problem might be to stress that any damage terrorists are able to accomplish likely can be
    absorbed, however grimly. While judicious protective and policing measures are sensible,extensive fear and anxiety over what may at base prove to be a rather limited problem are mis-placed, unjustified, and counterproductive


    I don't know that I've yet seen an apology from a newspaper's editors for being taken by last summer's "liquid bomb plot". They can't, of course, because they're selected by the paper's corporate owners to advance the "consolidation of power" agenda. If the media barons were to suddenly say "sorry, there never really was anything to fear, and 9/11 might have actually been a 'false flag' operation..." Well - however would George Bush justify setting up permanent bases in Iraq, and his plans to attack Iran and Syria?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:09PM (#17666678)
    Cars are plenty safe

    That's BS. There's huge room for improvements in car safety. This is proven by the existence of race cars where the driver could walk away from a crash after hitting a concrete barrier at 200mph. Meanwhile, the average car driver faces serious injuries if he does the same thing at 40mph.

    People say "But it would be too expensive to improve the safety of cars!". That's where the billions of dollars being spent on nebulous terrorist threats would come into play.

  • by UseTheSource (66510) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:19PM (#17666878) Homepage Journal
    They could install flare launchers on the planes, like military jets.
  • by russ1337 (938915) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:28PM (#17667058)
    >>> They could install flare launchers on the planes, like military jets

    They could, but flares are essentially an explosive and require allot more precautions. They also require significant operator management, including the requirement to maneuver the aircraft drastically to 'break lock' from the aircraft, hoping like heck the missile locks to a flare.

    Also, Flares are far more likely to cause fires in dry areas especially if one is 'punched out' due to a false alarm. (they also get 'used up' and one counter-counter measure is to trick the aircrafts self protection system into firing off all its flares before firing your missile at it.

    Fighters use flares primarily for the combat phases of flight, and are usually turned off for the landing and takeoff phase for safety reasons. This DIRCM system, while a total waste of money, negates most of the downfalls of flares, and requires almost no operator input. (They just need to turn it on and off at the right times)
  • Re:Anyone know (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kharchenko (303729) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:26PM (#17668282)
    It doesn't "fire" anything - it illuminates the missile warhead with high-intensity infra-red beams to oversaturate its sensors, so that the missile looses tracking. So the worst thing that could happen is that you could illuminate some schmucks' face, but (according to TFA) the laser intensity is not high enough to cause eye damage.
  • Re:Anyone know (Score:4, Interesting)

    by samantha (68231) * on Thursday January 18, 2007 @06:46PM (#17672498) Homepage
    There is no way that 911 happened the way the official story claims. I wish people would stop pretending it did. For one thing, 6 of the named terrorist purportedly responsible are known to be very much alive and not involved at all. For another there is the inconvenient free fall collapse speed of the buildings. Go research it. The truth is out there.

    Terrorism is not our primary problem. Not even close. That people believe it is and let themselves get railroaded by believing it is a large problem. What "everyone knows" is almost invariably what some powerful groups want them to "know".

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr

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