The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, allegedly at the hands of SAM-wielding Russian separatists, has brought to light a serious vulnerability in the world's airliners. The planes have no defense – not even a way of being notified – if a surface-to-air missile has been fired at them.

While that's not a real issue in more peaceful parts of the world, like North America and Western Europe, the threat in the Middle East, particularly with ISIS in the picture, has forced the hand of the Israeli government. The Israel Missile Defense Organization, Civil Aviation Authority and Elbit Systems have just completed testing of the Flight Guard missile defense system, which is designed to deal with the threat posed by shoulder-fired SAMs, and will be rolling it out across the nation's airlines.

"They examined the system against all relevant threats, most of which I cannot elaborate on, but I can say that the system was successful in every scenario," Adi Dar, of Elbit Systems told Jane's. "Flight Guard is one of the biggest and most complex projects ever undertaken at Elbit and in Israel, and we are excited and very pleased with the results of the trial."

Flight Guard uses "a forward-looking infrared missile-tracking camera and an infrared, ultra-violet, or radar missile-approach warning system sensor to detect a missile launch in the very early stages of an attack," according to Jane's. In layman's terms, the pod basically blasts an infrared laser at the missile, messing with the seeker head and diverting it off course.

While MH17 seems like the inspiration for this move, according to Jane's, Israel actually opted to way back in 2002, after terrorists attempted to bring down one of the country's airline's jets in Kenya.


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