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Protecting Commercial Aircraft from Terrorist Attacks

Protecting Commercial Aircraft from Terrorist Attacks

Author: Monica Amarelo

Type: Release

WASHINGTON DC -- Systems for protecting commercial aircraft against terrorist missile attacks could cost more than $40 billion, according to a recent Department of Homeland Security report obtained by the Federation of American Scientists.  

The report summarizes the results of a six-year, $276 million program to “…develop, demonstrate and evaluate technologies to protect commercial aircraft from MANPADS [man-portable air defense systems].” 

The three-phase program involved extensive testing of two anti-missile systems, one developed by Northrop Grumman Corporationand the other developed by BAE Systems.  Both systems use a laser to jam incoming missiles, causing them to veer off-course. Similar systems have been used on military aircraft for years.

The report reveals important details about the DHS program but several key questions, including the systems' effectiveness against certain types of missiles, remain unanswered.  Also unclear is whether Congress has the appetite for more spending despite its early enthusiasm for the program.

To learn more please read the SSP Blog

To interview Matt Schroeder, please contact Monica Amarelo at 202-454-4680 or [email protected]

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About FAS: 
The Federation of American Scientists ( was formed in 1945 by atomic scientists from the Manhattan Project. FAS addresses a broad spectrum of security issues in carrying out its mission to promote humanitarian uses of science and technology. 


Monica Amarelo
TEL 202-454-4680
[email protected]

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Matthew Schroeder is the Manager of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

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