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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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RE: mmmk
By Hare on 1/20/2007 7:07:51 AM , Rating: 2
They managed to drop blackhawks at Mogadishu with RPGs. I agree, doing any real damage to a large and fast aircraft would be difficult but still it's a real threat during take of and landing.

RE: mmmk
By masher2 on 1/20/2007 3:13:45 PM , Rating: 3
You're not thinking the scenario sufficiently through. First of all, a helicopter lands aircraft quickly. Second and most importantly, those Blackhawks were landing in enemy-controlled terrain. There were people directly underneath them with those RPGS.

This isn't a threat with commercial airliners. It's not hard to keep a runway clear, and your chance of hitting a jet with an unguided RPG is pretty much zero, unless you're right around that area. If you can't control that area, you've got bigger problems than RPGs to worry about. A terrorist could, for instance, simply blow a few large holes in the runway just as a jet was landing.

RE: mmmk
By Hare on 1/20/2007 3:49:20 PM , Rating: 2
True. My point was that the threat still exists. If a group of terrorists know that these kinds of precautions are taken care they will still find a way to do harm. Planes don't land very steeply so the launching area would still be too big to control. Don't get me wrong. I agree with you that RPGs are not a big threat but still there are so many ways that one could do harm.

I personally think that these laserpods can practically do very little but I hope I'm wrong about the potential.

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