In the very near future, all Israeli passenger planes are slated to be equipped with Elbit C-Music (commercial multi-spectral infrared countermeasure) anti-missile devices to protect from shoulder-launched missiles. The price of each system is $1 million. The Israeli Ministry of Transportation contracted with Elbit Systems Ltd. in 2009 for the initiative; the systems are to be supplied by the Elbit subsidiary Electro-optics El-Op Ltd.
The system uses infrared technology to detect a missile launched towards the plane and deflect it from its course in response. It is based on the Music system, a direct infrared technology Elbit designed for military aircraft and helicopters; it disrupts missiles fired at aircraft and causes them to veer off course by transmitting a laser beam. The system’s reliability, rapid-response and ability to deal with multiple threats at once is considered to be among the most advanced in the world today. In a recent test firing missiles at a plane with a live system installed, the planes recognized the launch and successfully used a laser beam to deflect the missile.
A system of this type was developed by the Israel Aerospace Industries following the 2002 shooting on an Arkia plane in Mombasa, Kenya. It did not reach operational stage, however, as many airports refused to allow planes with such systems to land on their runways.
A number of the leading companies in the aviation industry around the world have expressed interest in the system’s performance, but commercial airlines are reluctant to install it. It takes up space, adds weight and reduces the amount of passengers permitted on the plane. However, in the case of a security threat, the system’s reliability positions it as one of the most advanced systems of its kind in the world.