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February 27, 2014 11:21 am
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Israel Tests New Missile Defense System for Passenger Planes, Defense Ministry Says

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle fires an AIM-7 Sparrow missile, in January 2005, similar to what Israel tested in the Mediterranean on September 3, 2013.

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle fires an AIM-7 Sparrow missile, in January 2005, similar to what Israel tested in the Mediterranean on September 3, 2013.

Following the successful completion of tests for a new missile defense system for commercial aircraft, Israel plans to start installing it on passenger planes, the defense ministry said Wednesday.

The automatic, laser-based “SkyShield” system detects shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles and also scrambles their guidance systems, AFP reported.

“The tests, conducted in a test range in the south of Israel, were the most complex and sophisticated ever held in the state of Israel,” the ministry said in a statement. “The series of tests included a wide variety of threats that the SkyShield system would have to tackle in order to protect passenger aircraft.”

The ministry did not say when SkyShield will start being used in the field.

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In the past, Israeli civilian aircraft and airports have faced various threats.

The country’s airport in Eilat was briefly closed in August 2013 over unspecified security concerns, according to AFP. The Red Sea town, next to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, has been the target of cross-border rocket attacks.

In 2002, two shoulder-fired missiles were fired at an Israeli aircraft carrying 261 passengers  as it took off from Mombasa, Kenya. They narrowly missed their target.

SkyShield will be fitted to domestic airliners flying to Eilat and also international destinations, Israeli media said on Wednesday.

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