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The Northrop Grumman Guardian anti-missile system test will continue until March 2008

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 2008.

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Where was this thing yesterday?
By GTaudiophile on 1/19/2007 4:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
We should have knocked out China's anti-satellite missle with this laser yesterday!

RE: Where was this thing yesterday?
By Felofasofa on 1/19/2007 8:51:18 PM , Rating: 2
Funny I was thinking the exact same thing.

I read a few years ago that dudes with lasers were pointing them at pilots during take-off and landings, - makes you wonder at some peoples idea of fun.

RE: Where was this thing yesterday?
By Ringold on 1/19/2007 8:57:32 PM , Rating: 2
They likely werent errant teens, though. If I recall, some United pilots sustained retina damage.. which would suggest some play toys beyond most peoples budget. I still wonder how they got those sorts of powerful lasers to manage retina damage from perhaps a mile or more away, but I probably don't want to know.

By InsaneScientist on 1/20/2007 3:10:14 AM , Rating: 2
It's actually not difficult at all to get a Class IV laser. (Class IV is a Portable laser. One with considerably more punch than a laser pointer, which is class III)
I just got a reasonably high power laser (100mw sustained output, 140mw peak) for an astronomy class that I teach (amongst other things... but not pointing it at planes) from (not trying to advertise them or anything, just pointing out how easy it is to get one of these things).
They've even got ones that peak at 450mw of power. I can definately see that doing some damage over a long distance.

While they might be available, though, they're not cheap (as mentioned above me). My new toy cost me about $400... and that's on sale. Most lazy teens aren't gonna be able to shell out that much for a laser.

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