An MD-10 cargo jet recently departed the Los Angeles
International Airport (LAX) equipped
with Northrop Grumman's Guardian anti-missile system. It was the
first commercial flight in what will become an operational testing and
evaluation of the system which was designed to protect against shoulder-fired
anti-aircraft missile launchers. The current generation of the Guardian
system is based on Northrop's Nemesis, a defensive system used on cargo planes
only -- specifically FedEx MD-10 aircraft.
The Guardian system is a pod that weighs as much as two people and their
luggage, and sits on the underbelly of the MD-10. It works by first
detecting a missile launch and then shooting a laser at it to hopefully disrupt
the missile's guidance signals so that it will veer off course.
"For the first time, we will be able to collect valuable logistics data
while operating Guardian on aircraft in routine commercial service," said
Robert DelBoca, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's
Defensive Systems Division.
The system is can now be installed on commercial aircraft, but the system still does not meet Department of
Homeland Security reliability standards according to a government report.
Nine MD-10s will be equipped during a test period that will run through March