Israel has successfully completed a series of tests of an anti-missile defense system for passenger jets, the system’s manufacturer and Israel’s Defense Ministry announced.
Elbit System’s C-Music system – whose Hebrew name translates to “Sky Shield” – is designed to protect commercial airliners against shoulder-fired missiles.
Israel’s Army Radio reported that several Israeli passenger planes have already been outfitted with the gear.
These photos from the Defense Ministry and Elbit Systems show the system installed under passenger aircraft:
The system detects incoming missiles with a thermal camera. When the missile reaches a certain proximity to the aircraft, the system fires a laser at the missile’s seeker which deflects it off of its trajectory, allowing it to explode at a safe distance from the aircraft.
“The experiments, carried out in southern Israel, were some of the most complex and sophisticated ever carried out in Israel,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. “They simulated a range of threats that the C-Music system will have to deal with.”
“C-Music is considered the most advanced system of its kind in the world, and will provide ultimate defense to planes,” the ministry said. “It combined advanced detection and disruption technologies, and meets the stringent requirements of commercial flight.”
Elbit Systems President and CEO Bezhalel Machlis said the system is applicable both to commercial and military jets and that the defense contractor has already received orders from the Brazilian and Italian air forces.
“C-Music” is designed for both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. The acronym stands for Commercial-Multi Spectral Infrared Countermeasure.
Here is a dramatization posted to YouTube of the system in use:
Israel’s Transportation Ministry said the system will now be installed on Israeli airliners.
In 2002, terrorists fired shoulder-launched missiles at an Israeli Arkia Airlines passenger plane as it was taking off from Mombasa in Kenya. The two missiles missed their target and the plane landed safely in Tel Aviv.
On several occasions in recent years, Israeli airlines were instructed to halt domestic service to the southern port and resort city of Eilat due to the threat of possible shoulder-fired missile attacks from terrorists operating in the bordering Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.