The team responsible for protecting Israel’s commercial jets at the Israel Ministry of Defense have announced that they’re about to start doing it with lasers. They’ll be protecting these craft with SkyShield, a system developed by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems. This system utilizes laser technology with a thermal camera to deflect incoming threats.
These aren’t the sort of lasers you’ll find cutting enemy troops in half. That’s not what they’re all about. Instead, this technology goes by the name C-MUSIC, and the lasers are used to jam. Jamming incoming missiles with infrared sensors, these missiles are taken off course and sent to detonate well away from the craft.
NOTE: MANPADS stands for man-portable surface-to-air missile systems.
Of course where the missiles go after they’re sent haywire isn’t as much of a concern of the program. This program is a direct response by the Ministry of Defense to a 2002 attempt on an Israel charter plane while attempting to take off in Mobasa, Kenya. It was then that surface-to-air missiles were deemed enough of a threat that then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent out a call-to-action.
You can see C-MUSIC in full effect above. MUSIC stands for Multi-spectral Infrared Countermeasure, and the system will be implemented first on El Al airliners. According to Wired, The company responsible for implementing the system, Elbit, suggests they’ve got contracts at this point with airlines around the world for the near future.