Israel Successfully Tests Anti-missile System for Commercial Planes

The Sky Shield system integrates laser technology with a thermal camera to protect aircraft against missiles fired from the ground.

Israel has successfully completed final testing on a system that protects commercial planes from missile attacks, the defense ministry announced on Wednesday.

Testing of the Sky Shield system was "100 percent successful," according to Brig. Gen. Eitan Eshel, head of research and development at the ministry.

The system integrates laser technology with a thermal camera to protect aircraft against missiles fired from the ground. It deflects missiles fired at aircraft by changing their direction.

Eshel did not reveal when the system, under development for about a decade, would become operational, though he said that it would be deployed on all Israeli civilian aircraft. A contract has already been signed with El Al, he added.

The testing was conducted in the south of the country by the ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, together with the Civil Aviation Authority and the project's lead contractor, Elbit Systems

The ministry described the system as "the most advanced of its kind in the world, designed to secure the aircraft automatically." It added that the system integrates advanced search and evasion technologies that "meet the most rigid standards of civil aviation."

Islamic militants fired two surface-to-air missiles at an Israeli charter plane shortly after take-off in Mombasa, Kenya, in 2002. The missiles missed their target but spurred an Israeli effort to improve countermeasures.