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Thursday, November 8, 2007       Free Headline Alerts

Israel expedites missile warning systems for passenger jets

JERUSALEM Israel has accelerated a program to protect airliners against shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

Officials said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered the Finance Ministry to fund a plan to speed up the procurement of missile-warning systems for passengers jets of the former state-owned El Al airlines. They said the missile-warning systems were to have been installed on six airliners, but were delayed amid a dispute over payment.

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The Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority was believed to be developing extended-range SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the PA has acquired propellant for indigenous production.

"The main threat comes from Palestinian surface-to-air missiles," an official said. "We know they have the SA-7, and we think they could bring these missiles from the Gaza Strip into Israel."

Israeli airliners generally do not fly over the Gaza Strip. But international air routes pass over Tel Aviv, about 50 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.

Officials said the Finance Ministry would allocate $5 million to equip El Al planes with self-protection systems. The systems have been manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries and Israel Military Systems, and include missile warning capabilities as well as chaffe and flare.

Officials said the government has invested 46 million shekels, or more than $11 million to develop the system. One missile warning system has been installed in an El Al jet, with five platforms awaiting equipping.

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