Israeli jets get anti-missile kit

March 22, 2012

An anti-missile defence system is to be installed on all Israeli commercial jets.

Following a successful live-fire test, Israeli aviation companies will soon begin outfitting commercial planes with an anti-shoulder-fired missile system, the Israeli defence firm Elbit Systems said on Tuesday.

Elbit added that the multi-million dollar "C-Music" system, part of the broader-application "Sky Shield" set-up, which uses lasers to deflect incoming missiles, will be installed on all Israeli commercial jets operated by El Al, Arkia and Israir.

The implementation of the system comes two years after the Israeli government signed a $79 million contract with Elbit for its purchase and development.

Due to its sensitive nature, the company was reluctant to reveal exact details of the project. They did say that there has been great interest shown by a number of foreign countries, and the Italian Air Force is looking to acquire a version.

Foreign interest in the project followed reports that a significant number of shoulder-fired missiles were looted from Libyan weapons stockpiles during the anti-Gaddafi uprising, and had reached Sinai and the Gaza Strip.

In November 2002, shortly after a suicide bombing at a Mombassa hotel killed three Israelis and 10 Kenyans, two shoulder-launched Strela surface-to-air missiles were fired at an Arkia jet as it took off from the city's airport.

The missiles failed to hit their target but the close call highlighted the need for Israeli commercial jets to be equipped with a defence system.

Last updated: 4:27pm, March 22 2012