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Anti-Missile Defenses For Commercial Jets 594

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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  • Oops... (Score:2, Funny)

    by rbarreira ( 836272 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:05PM (#17665450) Homepage
    Adapted from military technology, Guardian is designed to detect a missile launch and then direct a laser to the seeker system on the head of the missile and disrupt its guidance signals.

    Is it a bird? Is it an airplane? Is it Superman? No, it's a missile crashing into the airport terminal!
  • by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:09PM (#17665514) Journal
    Just last week, on a connector flight from Des Moines International Airport to Minneapolis, we came under heavy flak around Albert Lea. Don't believe what the pilot is telling you: This is NOT turbulence, it's the Terrorists with Flak 88s trying to shoot down airliners. Should the Democrats ever surrender a supply of shoulder-launched heatseaking missiles to the Terrorists, this system will save countless lives.

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

  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:13PM (#17665606) Journal
    How can I get one for my cubicle? A few mods, and it could be my APHBM. If you can't figure out what the acronym is, you probably are a PHB.
  • by Sabotage ( 21481 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:15PM (#17665630)
    Jerry? Is that you?

    How's the popcorn?
  • by SQLz ( 564901 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:18PM (#17665666) Homepage Journal
    "Ooowww my eye!!"
  • by Prophet of Nixon ( 842081 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:21PM (#17665732)
    I was kind of hoping for a controlled experiment: you have a group of FedEx planes with the system and a control group of FedEx planes without the system. Then you hand out SAMs at the street corner and tell everyone to fire them with wild abandon at FedEx planes. Explain that they are big flying pinatas. At the end of a month or when everyone is out of SAMs you tally up how many FedEx planes are left and see which group they were in. Easy.
  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:22PM (#17665754)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ryan Fenton
  • by Profane MuthaFucka ( 574406 ) <> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:22PM (#17665758) Homepage Journal
    Are you trying to be funny? Were you attempting to use your humor skills on Slashdot readers? Are you an idiot? Do you realize that Slashdot readers cannot recognise humor without a humor detection program? Oh, you're going to suffer. You think you're so smart, but you will SUFFER for your attempt at humor. We don't WANT it here. Humor is spam to us. We don't want anything funny here. Take your funny and go home. GET OUT . LEave with your funny comments now. Don't come back until you can be serious like me.

    (This has been a public service announcement to let you know what the dumbass who moderated you as a troll was thinking.)
  • Thank god (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sneftel ( 15416 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:23PM (#17665800)
    Thank god that FedEx is finally protected against those UPS militia death-squads.
  • by airship ( 242862 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:30PM (#17665962) Homepage
    Can I get one installed on my Chevy Malibu to protect it from aggressive SUVs?

    Frankly, that would be a better use of the money.
  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:03PM (#17666568)

    Sure, lets do that right after we adopt the same strategy for food, autos, toys, and workplace safety since we know that markets are perfect, people are rational and make sound judgements about risk, and the interplay between people and markets can be relied upon to produce the best outcome in almost all cases. That explains why MS Windows runs well over 90% of all PCs.

  • by a_nonamiss ( 743253 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:26PM (#17667018)
    Dude! You're giving the terrorists too many ideas. I'm sure they have never thought of those, and going onto a public forum and posting these ideas is treason! You're a terrorist. Now we can arrest you, detain you without a hearing, and never give you a trial.

    You terrorists make me sick.
  • by fbjon ( 692006 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:37PM (#17667256) Homepage Journal
    In other news, a man was killed by perforation at Los Angeles Intl., when he foolishly fired up a welding torch on the airfield.
  • by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:40PM (#17667312) Homepage Journal
    This is where the slashdot moderation system breaks down.

    Thats because they've rerouted power to the anti-missle defense system.

    and the lameness filter killed my ascii missle. That system sure works.
  • by Zaatxe ( 939368 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:42PM (#17667372)
    - Knock-knock
    - Who is there?
    - CIA.
    - CIA who?
    - See I a terrorist with too many ideas for attacks!
  • by drew ( 2081 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:31PM (#17668398) Homepage
    Also, if you note, the price is supposed to come out to about $300 per flight over the course of the life of the plane. Or, about $1 to $2 per passenger per flight. I think a human life is worth more than that, how about you?

    Numbers that are completely meaningless. If these billions of dollars ultimately save less than 100 lives, are they still worth it? What about when you consider how those billions of dollars could be used to save far more lives in other areas of research? For $300 per flight we could probably train monkeys with BB guns to patrol the airport runways looking for terrorists with shoulder launched missiles. Would that be a worthwhile investment?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @04:02PM (#17669068)
    True, most #$%^ing SUV drivers probably would drive better if blinded.
  • by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:22PM (#17670844)
    I'd pay an extra $2 per flight to see armed monkeys. Not that it has anything to do with terrorism, I just like the idea of armed monkeys.

System checkpoint complete.