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calendar   Friday - March 21, 2008

El Al: better to argue over money than provide safety

Airline finally gets around to starting to install missile defenses, years after threat becomes apparent

Defense officials say Israel will begin outfitting some of its passenger aircraft with missile defense systems within weeks.

The plans have been in the works since 2002, when an Arkia passenger jet was targeted after takeoff by militants firing missiles in Mombasa, Kenya. The missiles missed, but the attack spurred Israel to consider equipping passenger aircraft with defense systems similar to those already used by the air force.

The officials say the system fires flares that disrupt an incoming missile’s heat-seeking mechanism.  It will be installed first on airplanes flying to destinations considered dangerous, especially in Africa and parts of Asia.

The officials say the plans were held up until this month by arguments between government ministries over who would foot the bill.

But now that hezbollah is making threats of revenge everywhere, the Israeli government has agreed to cover most of the cost. I wonder how many more years El Al would have kept the argument going if the gov hadn’t given in? Until one of their planes was shot down? Two? Twelve?

Ok, this isn’t a knock against El Al specifically, but come on already. Flare and chaff launchers have been around forever. These are off the shelf parts, and self-contained units. The cost out to be minimal and the retrofit should be quite simple. Yet it took 5 years to debate who was going to pay for it? Puh-leez. I’m simply amazed that El Al didn’t install these things ages ago. Hell, I’m surprised their airliners don’t have radar jamming electronics and a few air-to-air missiles secretly mounted.

And these guys are probably leading the pack. Does any other airline have any kind of active defenses installed? Not that I know of. But in a more perfect world, I wouldn’t want to know about it. Put the things in, and keep your damn mouth shut. Crazy people have been hijacking, bombing, and shooting down airliners for more than 30 years now. Wise up.

Cruise ships have started getting hassled by pirates lately. I see no reason why they aren’t armed a little bit too. Once upon a time, back in the old days, all merchant vessels were armed. Out there on the high seas you were truly Over The Line, and you were responsible for your own safety. Frankly I’d rather travel in a ship or plane that was set up for self defense, and I’d be willing to pay a little more for that too. But remember what happened post-9/11 when US airline pilots wanted to be armed? Screaming monkeys flinging poo everywhere. Not much happened, though I’ve heard the flight attendants got some judo training. I hope they got tasers and stun guns too, but I doubt it.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/21/2008 at 01:48 PM   
Filed Under: • War On Terror •  
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