Israel has just taken a new twist in fighting surface to air missiles. The country’s latest, Laser firing jets, dubbed SkyShield, are set to help combat launched missiles. Israeli defence contractor, Elbit Systems, developed the SkyShield system.
Yesterday, Israel’s ministry of defence announced that SkyShield has successfully completed testing and is ready to face the threat of Man-Portable surface-to-air missile systems or MANPADS as they are more commonly known. They do this by using a combination of laser detection and disruption technologies.
The commercial version of SkyShield combines both laser technology with a thermal camera, which can deflect incoming missiles by jamming them. The missiles are detected by infrared sensors shortly before the jet fires a laser which can disrupt the missile’s navigation system, thereby taking it off its course and detonating it a safe distance away from the aircraft.
The director of research and development of the system, Israel Air Force Brig. Gen. Eitan Eshel said, “SkyShield has been validated under the most complex and sophisticated testing conditions ever conducted in Israel and is now ready to protect Israeli airlines.”
The technological advancements in the area of air defence is in response to the 2002 terrorists’ attempt to take down an Israeli charter plane shortly after it took off in Mombasa, Kenya. The terrorists fired two Surface-to-air missiles towards it, but fortunately for the 250 passengers and crew on board, the missiles missed their target. The event prompted the then prime minister, Ariel Sharon to call for an emergency defence response.
The project was delayed by misunderstandings between defence firms and government agencies over invoice settlement. According to Elbit Systems, Israel has contracts with several countries all over the world to protect airlines.
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[Image via defence-blog]