U.S. moves toward anti-missile system for commercial planes
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Thursday it plans to seek industry proposals to develop on-board anti-missile systems to protect commercial aircraft from terrorist attacks using portable, shoulder-fired missiles.
News reports said the Bush administration is willing to spend up to $100 million during the next two years to adapt military counter-measures, such as heat-seeking flares, for use on commercial aircraft. The 2004 Homeland Security budget includes $60 million for research into aircraft defense systems, but Homeland Security officials previously said they were unsure that placing the expensive technology on each aircraft was the most cost-effective way to deal with the terrorist threat.
Some members of Congress have criticized the Bush administration for not moving rapidly to deploy the technology.
The department plans to meet with defense contractors in early October to analyze how to commercialize the military technology.