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Snafu seriously delays anti-missile system for Israeli airliners

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

TEL AVIV Israel has failed to complete a missile alert system for civilian airliners because of lack of funds.

Officials said the Defense Ministry has failed to relay sufficient funds to ensure the planned pace of development of a missile warning system for civilian airliners. The system represented a government-financed project by the state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries and Israel Military Industries in an effort to foil shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile attacks on civilian airliners.

Officials said the funding issue comprises a bureaucratic dispute between two government ministries, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the Defense Ministry blames the Transportation Ministry for failing to relay the funds. The Transportation Ministry said it relayed the funding and that the Defense Ministry was granted responsibility for the project.

The result has been serious delays in the project. Officials said a missile alert prototype was meant to have been tested by the end of the year and the first systems could have been produced in 2004.

The money withheld for the development of the system was reported at six million shekels, or $1.4 million. Officials said most of the government funds approved were not relayed to IAI and IMI.

The IAI-IMI system was one of several missile alert prototypes being developed. Elbit Systems and Rafael, Israel Armament Development Authority have also developed a system, based on missile alert systems for combat jets.

The failure to complete development of a missile alert system has reduced Israeli passenger flights to several areas around the world amid an alert of Al Qaida anti-aircraft attacks. The Israel Security Agency has banned flights by Israel's national air carrier, El Al, to Kenya because of the possibility of another attempt by Al Qaida to down an Israeli passenger jet. In December 2002, an Al Qaida SA-7 surface-to-air missile failed to down an Israeli airliner in Mombassa, Kenya.

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