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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the throw-me-a-bone-here dept.

AnonTechie writes:

First Stop: Skyshield ... Next Stop: Skynet"

From an article in Wired:

Israel is finally ready to combat shoulder-launched missiles and they're going to do it with lasers. Israel's Ministry of Defense announced Wednesday that SkyShield, developed by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems, had successfully completed testing and is certified for commercial use to combat the threat of man-portable surface-to-air missile systems (MANPADS) by combining advanced laser detection and disruption technologies.

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:15AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:15AM (#11267)

    Since the jets will have weapons employed (and if those weapons can be used on missiles, they certainly can be used on other targets as well), do they still qualify as civilian aircrafts? After all, they could be used to start an attack disguised as a civilian flight until the very last moment.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Kell on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:05PM

      by Kell (292) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:05PM (#11281)

      I think the idea is to just dazzle the missile guidance system as a countermeasure? I don't see this as being anything other than a fully automated reactive system. Then again, I also didn't RTFA, so ... yeah.

      --
      Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by GungnirSniper on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:19PM

      by GungnirSniper (1671) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:19PM (#11284) Journal

      Since the jets will have weapons employed (and if those weapons can be used on missiles, they certainly can be used on other targets as well), do they still qualify as civilian aircrafts?

      Good question. I've read elsewhere Israeli civilian jets use Chaff (released metal strips for radar confusion) [wikipedia.org] and similar technology for heat-seeking missiles. The offensive use of these lasers, at least attached to civilian aircraft is unlikely, as it would make all civilian aircraft suddenly into military targets. Similar to the same reason false surrenders are a bad idea.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:17PM

        by Sir Garlon (1264) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:17PM (#11306)

        The offensive use of these lasers, at least attached to civilian aircraft is unlikely, as it would make all civilian aircraft suddenly into military targets.

        Anybody who is likely to attack Israel is likely to attack civilian aircraft whether they're armed or not. Indeed, that's the original reason for the lasers. Swiss Air does not need lasers on its aircraft because nobody wants to attack Swiss civilians.

        --
        [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by c0lo on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:24PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:24PM (#11289) Journal
      TFA quote

      C-MUSIC, the commercial version of SkyShield, integrates laser technology with a thermal camera to deflect incoming threats by jamming. After detecting incoming missiles with an infrared sensor, it fires a laser that disrupts the missile’s navigation system, taking it off course and detonating the missile a safe distance from the aircraft.

      1. a jamming system for incoming missiles - essentially, a defensive countermeasure
      2. I wonder how hard would it be for the missile manufacturers to desensitize the navigation system of the particular laser wavelength(s) the laser is using?
      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
      • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:02PM (#11346)

        Defensive - until you reach the part where they say it detonates the missile. As far as I know, missiles are not detonated by a laser shining into a detonation sensor.

        The kind of missiles they are most worried about are probably detonated by impact, so detonating them by laser means heating up the missile until the charge self-ignites.

        That's not a defensive weapon. It can be used as one, but so can any weapon. That does not allow you to bring them into a civilian airport.

        • (Score: 1) by Alias on Thursday March 06 2014, @07:23AM

          by Alias (2825) on Thursday March 06 2014, @07:23AM (#11814)

          Some missiles do actually have "laser" fuses. These devices are basically optical proximity detectors. They have a laser, (which is probably modulated in a specific way to prevent accidental triggering or reflection spoofing,) and a detector which detects the reflection of the laser off of an aircraft when the missile is right next to the aircraft. (Such a laser fuse usually operates out of the side of the missile.) If it is close enough to take out the aircraft, it triggers the warhead.

          Missiles that don't have a laser fuse usually have a "radar" fuse instead.

          A laser capable of heating up a missile until it fails would not be likely on a commercial aircraft. Commercial aircraft budget weight and space very carefully; a laser powerful enough to take out a missile in flight would require enough cooling hardware that it would probably be at least the size, (and mass,) of a small car. That doesn't include the aiming optics. Much of this hardware and mass would have to be inconveniently located on the aircraft to be aimable in most directions. Not practical with current technology. (At least not with technology that would ever end up in public view.)

          There are several systems, (don't know how many are in production, but there were several research systems,) that jam heat-seeking missile trackers with the use of lasers (sometimes multiple lasers in one device.) These lasers typically emit light in the 4-10 micron wavelength range. Some of those systems were designed with MANPADS in mind but they also work on other heat-seekers.

          With regard to the filters and other techniques that might make missiles immune to jamming, there is a reason for the secrecy behind the exact capabilities of the jamming devices. There is somewhat of an arms race in this area. Not long ago, the MANPADS missiles were still relatively low tech; I imagine the missiles these systems are intended to thwart haven't changed much in the last 5 years. Regardless of the physical capabilities of whatever is going on those commercial aircraft, I'm pretty sure they do not have the data/software required to defeat advanced missiles launched by modern military aircraft.

      • (Score: 1) by etherscythe on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:50PM

        by etherscythe (937) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:50PM (#11416) Journal

        Desensitize? Does that not defeat the purpose of a laser guidance system, such that the missile won't home properly anyway? You could use different frequencies I suppose, but so can the jammer. It's a pretty simple lense swap AFAIK with a frequency shifter membrane.

        This is how many green laser pointers are currently produced; they have a diode in the infrared range which is frequency doubled up to 532nm wavelength. A bigger one would be more expensive but not necessarily too much more complex. Alternatively you just have an array of different lasers on the commonly used frequencies. There's only so many values in the infrared range, which most of this equipment uses.

        Note: I am not a defense engineer, I'm just speculating off the top of my head

        --
        "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by bitshifter on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:15AM

    by bitshifter (2241) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:15AM (#11268)

    Can it?

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by mrcoolbp on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:20AM

    by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:20AM (#11271) Homepage

    Well...I for one welcome our new laser-wielding flying overlords.

    --
    (Score:1^½, Radical)
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by anyanka on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:27AM

      by anyanka (1381) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:27AM (#11273)

      I for one welcome our new MANPAD wearing overlords...

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:20PM

    by VLM (445) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:20PM (#11285)

    "combat the threat of man-portable surface-to-air missile systems (MANPADS)"

    This is security theater. We've had those actively deployed since I was a little kid and by and large they're no threat to civilians. For terror purposes, conventional rifles are so much cheaper and more effective that its a joke.

    For (admittedly fairly pitiful) tactical air defense of a very small area by an understaffed unit with excellent logistical support from an old fashioned mid level bombing attack they work pretty well. This doesn't necessarily prevent the defenders destruction, its an economic countermeasure where you're not dropping cheap slicks visually if they can shoot missiles back, so you've just increased costs for the attacker by about two orders of magnitude because now they need to use a way more expensive stand off munition. So if you want to waste that wedding party, its going to cost $$$$$$ not $$$$. That is the purpose of deploying MANPADS, at least outside hollywood. Also it makes it more expensive to secure an airport by making it more expensive to secure a larger area of ground.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Yog-Yogguth on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:36PM

      by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:36PM (#11389) Journal

      Your comment didn't make sense until I thought that you misunderstood: the lasers are on planes protecting against MANPADS/Stinger type weapons [wikipedia.org].

      Like against what the US trained the box-monkeys to do in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Remember that? All the Hind's going down?

      But then I realized that couldn't be the case and you simply don't make any sense at all :|

      Why the fuck are you +5?

      So the planes now defend themselves by confusing/jamming the sensors on the missiles launched and targeted against flying planes, usually during take-off and landing when even the most inbred box-fetishist can point in roughly the right direction even without US training. In particular for civilian passenger planes operating out of civilian airports during "peace" when there is no air defense as such.

      Because this has already happened a few times: El Al has had at least two rockets fired after their planes as far as I can remember (and I haven't paid much attention to the issue for a few years). I notice TFA mentions one of them.

      BTW good luck bringing down a passenger jet in spectacularly ball of flames sufficiently gruesome enough to inadvertently blaspheme your pretend peaceful "god" with your bolt action hunting rifle --unless you have Hichok45 levels of skill of course :D

      --
      Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:47PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:47PM (#11483) Journal

        According to this: [state.gov]

        "More than 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by MANPADS missiles since the 1970s."
         
        So it's not entirely uncommon. Whether the risk analysis works out it its favor I can't say. But, acting like it's not a credible threat is also wrong.

        • (Score: 0) by Yog-Yogguth on Thursday March 06 2014, @02:57AM

          by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 06 2014, @02:57AM (#11687) Journal

          Wow that was a much larger number than I was aware of. I obviously can't mod you up but thank you!

          I completely agree it's a rather limited and fairly unusual danger. However I would not be surprised if it might explain what some "kids with beards" are playing when aiming green lasers at aircraft (and occasionally other targets).

          --
          Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by clone141166 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:21PM

    by clone141166 (59) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:21PM (#11286)

    This ought to make people on the ground think twice before pointing their hand held laser pointers at passing aircraft... Better hope it's not an Israeli plane.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Wakaranai on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:21PM

    by Wakaranai (486) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:21PM (#11287)
    Skynet has been here for about 45 years. Skynet [wikipedia.org] is a family of UK military satellites.
    The first two satellites were launched in 1969.

    Ah... unless "next stop" is mentioned in the anticipation of time-travel.....?
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bucc5062 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:35PM

    by bucc5062 (699) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:35PM (#11292)

    There are moments when I feel like the whole planet has just gone through the looking glass and we are living in this bazarre world of crazy thought.

    As one post pointed out, even if the laser is "defense" it just makes it more of a target. "Hey evil minion, let's see if we can overload the system this time". At worst there is now way to ever determine if a transport jetliner is a threat or not till it lands of something spews out.

    But let's talk pilots. On top of an already overworked and under paid pilot's workload, they will now have to be trained in a system that has nothing to do with flying/operating the aircraft. Those FOs who just got their ATP now get to spend even more money learning how to activate and use some type of "defense" system on a civilian airliner, what could possible go wrong.

    How far down the plane chain is this taken? Which types are protected, which are not? Is it by country? Manufacturer? "Gee Martha, I'd like to fly Delta, but you know they don't have lasers on board". I figure if I'm a bad guy, I'd just target RJs, turoprops are juicy targets for they are low and slow.

    No, in traditional fashion I did not RTFA, but why bother. Putting civilian jet, lasers, and "security" in the summary was enough to say bad idea. (which will make it top priority for Congress and their Defense Overlords)

    --
    The more things change, the more they look the same
    • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @02:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @02:35PM (#11337)

      in traditional fashion I did not RTFA

      ...and thus immediately branched off into tangent-land and penned a post which really does not pertain to the subject at all. Good show! Why didn't you stay at slashdot?

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bucc5062 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:16PM

        by bucc5062 (699) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:16PM (#11354)

        Okay, ya got me. Shame on me for not reading a semi ad article on what the Israelis are doing to their airlines. So I went back and read the article. What I got out of it was about what I had expected. Little to no substance, a lot of unanswered questions and the final sentence

        "The system will first be implemented on all El Al airliners, but Elbit says it has contracts with several other countries around the world."

        Gee, I wonder who they could be?

        Since Israel is in a perpetual state of war it is not surprising that they would come up with such a stupid solution to a very small threat. The article cites just one actual attempt. One. For that, airlines will now have to adapt and reconfigure planes to have some laser module hanging off the bottom. Given how airline are doing everything they can to limit weight and drag, this seems counter productive.

        So how can El Al do this? Let's compare El Al,the only major airline company operating out of Israel with just one from the US.

        From Wiki:

        In 2012, El Al operated an all-Boeing fleet of 38 aircraft

        38.

        Compared to Delta (Atlanta Based airline)

        As of January 2013, Delta operates a fleet of more than 700 aircraft manufactured by Airbus, Boeing, and McDonnell Douglas.[54]

        700.

        In what wet dream is Delta going to happily alter 700 planes to carry a laser. If they do, they have over 12000 pilots that would need training on not just the operation of this device, but specific flight maneuvers needed in the extreme chance some bad guy pops a hand held at a plane.

        How is Delta going to pay for this? I did a little digging and found that skysheild costs around $15M

        Each Sky Shield costs $15 million

        Now even if that is reduced down on volume we are not talking about a cheap system. The president of Delta airlines is then left with a choice, spend millions of dollars on his whole fleet (for god forbid he leaves one unprotected and blammo) or take a risk that evil bad guys don't see the value in shooting down airplanes as a general rule.

        Let us just say that one day some asshat does decide to pop a big cap at a plane. The system senses then fails to react because the low wage tech back at the hanger forgot to do a check of some system because his SO left him the day before. FFS, a plane crashed because a tech reconnected wire backwards causing the controls to be reversed. So Delta now has to pay
        1 - the cost of refitting the device
        2 - The cost of training pilots in the operations and flight adjustments
        3 - the cost of training techs to install and maintain a quasi military device
        4 - the cost of maintaining the physical equipment

        and stuff I can't even think of, but he can.

        Even at a cool Million, El Al is in the hole 38M and will most likely get money back from the Government of Israel and indirectly from the US (we write them a good sized check).

        Delta is looking at 700M (plus expenses) and even spread out over time (see problem with not all ready in time) it will cost them, thus us, more money then I'd say they want to spend.

        That is why this is insanity.

        SO you were right, I should have read the article so I could have gotten even more stupidity from the contents. As to your slashdot comment...this from an AC? grow up.

        --
        The more things change, the more they look the same
        • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Yog-Yogguth on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:21PM

          by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:21PM (#11407) Journal

          Not much of an improvement to your previous post :3

          Likely customers: anyone flying anywhere in the MENA region (which doesn't include US continental carriers unless they think they're Africans not Americans), particularly anyone servicing Sudan and Somalia. Let's add Kenya even though it's outside the MENA region since the box-lovers kill people there. Maybe Nigeria and Congo too since the box-lovers kill people there. Oh and maybe Mali too since the box-lovers kill other box-lovers there. And maybe Pakistan since... Hell let's add Iran since the US (not the box-fetishists for once!) shot down a passenger plane stuffed with box-lovers (oh, there they are again).
          Reasons: bloody obvious.

          "Stupid solution"... so are you familiar with the military solution to this specific problem? For example what the US did during take-off and landing to Kabul airport? It's not something you do with civilian passenger jets unless you want to go out of business :) I've given you enough that you can go find out if you actually want to.

          Why are you talking about Delta Airlines? Isn't that a bit of a straw-man?
          Why assume every airplane has to get one? And at the same time? Who would be forcing them? The US federal government? Al-Qaeda and/or other box-worshipers? Possibly so but until that happens it's still a straw-man.

          Answers:
          1. The price is almost guaranteed to include installation.
          2. It is automatic and involves no pilot training or adjustments.
          3. The price is almost guaranteed to include any maintenance (which in turn is sure to be far less frequent and also much easier than airplane maintenance)
          4. Don't repeat previous questions (1) to make longer lists.

          Who can think of what you can't think of?

          Why do you think El Al will do this for all airplanes or for all of them at the same time? (See I can repeat myself too).

          Wired sucks but not as badly as your posts imply :D

          --
          Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))
          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bucc5062 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:56PM

            by bucc5062 (699) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:56PM (#11463)

            Who the hell are box lovers? That alone diminishes your statements since you resort to name calling to identify a group of people.

            What costs more, a hand held missile launcher or this laser device? What's more replaceable, hand held missile launchers and missiles or a plane with a laser device. The reason I ask pertains to your question why every plane needs one.

            Why does every single person in the USA have to go through a security screening before getting on an airplane? Because in the minds of the TSA, if just one person gets past, and that was the one with a exploding device, weapon, and or ability to capture a plane, the whole purpose fails. This is why the TSA shuts down whole airports when some dim-bulb walks past a security station or the TSA discovers that a person got past without being checked.

            If you put a laser defense on just a few airplanes, then you just make it easier to identify the ones that are not protected and boom, security system fails. If you don't enforce an all or nothing approach for this type of security then it does little to stop bad guys. It is not a strawman at all. It is a reflection of how the USA implements security these days in dealing with air transport. To your other point, yes, it would be the US government mandating all airlines to implement this level of security for it would be the FAA having to establish how, when, and who does the work.

            Are you serious about automatic? How is it turned on? Turned off? What happens when something goes wrong and an indicator light comes on saying it don't work no more. Airliners and the FAA do not like to put black boxes on civilian airplanes without knowing everything it does, how it effects a civilian air frame, and what impact it can have on a flight.

            So, back to the cost comparison. I'm a bad guy and I want to do harm to airplanes (note NSA, this is just theorizing like you do all day). Some airplanes will have cool laser device, most wont. Once Evil Capitalist country starts to implement such a device it makes civilian planes more target worthy thus I will,
            1 - Identify the haves from the have nots
            2 - Set up a location where I can attack with the biggest impact (no pun)
            3 - Attack. If I miss no harm for the Capitalistic Country will bend over backwards trying to get even safer and destroy its economy (at least aviation). If I hit, I get the satisfaction of success and I still get the first part.

            Even if all planes are protected, I just adjust by attacking with overwhelming odds using multiple conventions of attack.

            Cost to me, a bunch of missiles and possibly a martyr or two. Cost to an airline and a country, billions of dollars wasted. and unless I have dedicated airplanes to those countries you listed (and US carriers go to some, EU carriers certainly do) then what happens with a protected plane is out of service and the only plane to fly in is one without a laser beam? Make it mandatory to fly into Mali? Smart Airlines will drop that country in a heart beat.

            Here's a thought, maybe if we just figured out a way to stop bad guys from shooting missiles at civilian airplanes it might just cost a lot less. But then some defense business would lose out on making billions on a worthless project.

            --
            The more things change, the more they look the same
            • (Score: 0, Troll) by Yog-Yogguth on Thursday March 06 2014, @02:29AM

              by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 06 2014, @02:29AM (#11663) Journal

              It says it's automatic in TFA. When it doesn't work you explode. That's probably why it's quite expensive: fault tolerant engineering.

              Not every airplane travels every route.

              You obviously instantly knew what a box lover is. I could have called them "hate tourists" and you would instantly know. I could have called them "pink unicorns" or "green trolleys" and you would still likely know exactly who it was or quickly figure it out. If I called them "yummy peaches" you would probably be slightly confused, maybe confused enough to stop writing but it wouldn't be because you didn't identify them but only because your stale thought patterns started throwing all your assumptions back in your face --you might start contemplating and reevaluating your own thoughts :D

              A hand held missile launcher doesn't do the airplane any good so your comparison is nonsense, or are you suggesting the co-pilot hang out of the cockpit window with a Stinger trying to shoot down the rocket with his rocket? :)

              Flares would be cheaper but "lawyers" (i.e. international civil regulation of the use of civilian airspace for civilian purposes making the obvious solution illegal), so one isn't allowed to do that.

              Would it be cheaper to kill all the lawyers and then use flares? Please feel free to do it.

              Fuck the TSA, fuck the US federal government, fuck your straw-men, and fuck islam :)

              "Evil capitalist country"? What are you, stuck in the 20ieth century? This is the 21st century dominated by two large fascist powers hell-bent on the destruction of everything and anything remotely decent about humanity: the federal US "elite" with their EU pawns and islam murdering their way through Africa and Asia and raping and fucking their way through Europe, neither of which are capitalist in any meaningful sense of the word except if by capitalist you simply mean "have or use money".

              No system is perfect but it is made to avert at least one missile. Maybe it will have to be improved, maybe it already can deal with multiple missiles (I would not be surprised if it did) but yeah you would then argue it's shit because it couldn't handle fifty or a hundred simultaneous missile launches. Why would you give a shit about a hundred bullets in your neck if you didn't avoid bullet number one anyway? This is a perfect example of bureaucratic mentality where you don't do anything at all because you can think of a thousand reasons it might fail: you don't take any baby steps towards finding possible solutions and don't want anyone else trying either because they might eventually end up with something that at least partially works and you hate that. You good Sir, is an anti-hacker.

              Best of luck making it mandatory to fly into Mali —you're pure gold!— maybe you don't know it but they already have you thinking like a pure fascist would; you believe anyone planning on blowing up planes gives a shit about laws :D

              Cue everybody telling me I've been trolled in 3, 2, 1...

              --
              Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))
              • (Score: 2) by bucc5062 on Thursday March 06 2014, @02:50AM

                by bucc5062 (699) on Thursday March 06 2014, @02:50AM (#11678)

                I just...[slow claps]

                --
                The more things change, the more they look the same
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Barrabas on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:35PM

    by Barrabas (22) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:35PM (#11312) Journal

    I worked for Elbit making aircraft instruments and was generally familiar with other projects.

    I concur with the other posters here: this is expensive, burdensome, and useless.

    People have pointed out that you only need a more expensive missile, but an even simpler solution is to fire *two* missiles at once. Can the laser system handle both?

    This assumes that the system works perfectly, or at least works at all. Knowing a little bit about the difficulties in locking on and tracking a high-speed moving object from a high-speed moving object that's vibrating (ever ridden in an airplane?), with variations in visible moisture/fog/clouds (ever landed in light fog?) and that may or may not be susceptible to counter-measures (reflective paint), I'm skeptical that the kill percentage is even 10%.

    According to Wikipedia, MANPADs [wikipedia.org] have a range of about 4 miles (varies by type), with a speed of 1200 feet/sec or faster (varies by type). The Aircraft downwind/crosswind/final approach is done at 1000 feet above ground level, so there is a *huge* area where the system has less than 1 second to detect, track, lock on, and fire. Half that for more modern missiles. I'm doubtful that the system can muster this much speed and accuracy.

    (If the IR camera is the one I'm familiar with, it's running at about 30 Hz frame rate and has limited view angle. It would *appear* from the image in the article that it won't see shots coming from the side or underneath.)

    As a for instance, just off of the top of my head, consider Boston Logan Airport traffic pattern [google.com]. A large portion is thickly settled, much of it is factory/docks/industrial, and a lot of it is over water (think: boat). How easy would it be to hide somewhere along the final approach path, and get a 1/2 second (modern high-speed missile) flight?

    This is what is called an "expense account scam". It's purpose is to funnel money to business, not to have any real effect. It actually makes us *less* safe, because the money could be better spent more effectively in other areas such as intelligence gathering.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Barrabas on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:51PM

      by Barrabas (22) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:51PM (#11319) Journal

      I'm aware that the laser doesn't "kill" the missile, just blinds it or leads it away to detonate harmlessly. I use terms like "fire" and "kill" indiscriminately.

      The IR camera sees heat radiation so I wonder how it distinguishes a missile from, for example, the apparent track of a bonfire on the camera as the plane moves.

      I wonder if the system has a false-positives, and I wonder if the pilots are informed when the system detects a track.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JeanCroix on Wednesday March 05 2014, @02:25PM

        by JeanCroix (573) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @02:25PM (#11332)

        The IR camera sees heat radiation so I wonder how it distinguishes a missile from, for example, the apparent track of a bonfire on the camera as the plane moves.

        The initial lock-on generally prevents that kind of extraneous targeting. But that principal is exactly what's being exploited by the use of flares as IR countermeasures. Which leads to the question - if defending commercial aircraft from MANPADs is such a pressing issue, why aren't they all equipped with flares already?

        • (Score: 1) by emg on Wednesday March 05 2014, @02:47PM

          by emg (3464) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @02:47PM (#11341)

          As I understand it, you're not allowed to put flare launchers on commercial aircraft.

          I guess no-one banned lasers :).

          • (Score: 2) by JeanCroix on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:40PM

            by JeanCroix (573) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:40PM (#11363)
            Well, sure. Which tells me the MANPAD threat isn't very high. Or at least, the threat of stray or malfunctioning flare systems is greater than the threat of MANPADs. But then again, this is Israel we're talking about, who take a whole different approach to threats and countermeasures out of necessity.
            • (Score: 2, Interesting) by emg on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:32PM

              by emg (3464) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:32PM (#11386)

              It wasn't high, but with reports of thousands of them disappearing from Libya, I suspect the risk is a lot higher today than it was five years ago. Particularly for Israel.

          • (Score: 2) by nukkel on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:38PM

            by nukkel (168) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:38PM (#11411)

            Actually, El Al does: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_Guard [wikipedia.org]

          • (Score: 2) by EvilJim on Wednesday March 05 2014, @09:16PM

            by EvilJim (2501) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @09:16PM (#11523) Journal

            you're only allowed to attach lasers to a plane if there is a shark attached also. anyway, I thought MANPADs were for anal bleeds?

    • (Score: 1) by emg on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:17PM

      by emg (3464) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:17PM (#11355)

      "it won't see shots coming from the side or underneath"

      Are there any MANPADs today that can reliably engage jets from anywhere other than the rear? I haven't been keeping up with the technology, but always seemed in the past that they had to be behind the plane to lock on reliably.

      • (Score: 1) by akinliat on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:09PM

        by akinliat (1898) <akinliatNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:09PM (#11400)

        AFAIK, Stingers, at least, have always had all-aspect capability. I'd guess that the later-generation Russian and Chinese MANPADS do as well. Given their primary military use (defense against low-level air attack), they'd almost have to. Not much point in shooting an aircraft after the attack run.

        • (Score: 1) by emg on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:46PM

          by emg (3464) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:46PM (#11453)

          "Not much point in shooting an aircraft after the attack run."

          Though you're not necessarily the one the aircraft is attacking. If I remember correctly, in the Falklands the planes attacking ships after the landing were often engaged by MANPADS from the ground nearby as well as the fixed anti-aircraft missile installations.

          But, yeah, looks like you're right, Wikipedia doesn't say about the Stinger, but claims the Soviet equivalent could attack from the front 'under favourable circumstances' since the early 80s.

          • (Score: 1) by akinliat on Thursday March 06 2014, @09:16PM

            by akinliat (1898) <akinliatNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 06 2014, @09:16PM (#12214)

            You know, I actually thought about this, and I'm not the only one. I suppose, in situations where no other form of air defense was available, then you might actually try to use a large-scale deployment of these as a (pretty kludgy) area defense option. The US Marine Corps actually has what it calls LAAD (Low-Altitude Air Defense) Battalions that seem to be for just this purpose. In that role, a rear-aspect only variant might be viable.

            Given how marginal these things are even for point defense, though, I have a hard time imagining them as all that effective in the area defense role, at least against jets. They could be quite effective against helicopters.

            I'm not surprised that they played a role in the Falklands -- the whole war was such a donkey derby, on both sides, that I'd believe almost anything about it. To me though, what that says is just how badly the Royal Navy fell down on the job. Air defense was supposed to primarily be the RN's responsibility, but when they arrived in-theater, they discovered that their primary air-defense system (Sea Dart) didn't worked as advertised -- when they could get it to work at all.

    • (Score: 1) by marcello_dl on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:01PM

      by marcello_dl (2685) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:01PM (#11422)

      Indeed, I wonder what is the damage that a newfangled 50cal rifle, which I guess would not be much affected by laser jamming, would do to the light aircraft body.

      The more I think about it, the more the idea of taking down airplanes by putting people with explosives inside seem ridiculous, unless the suicides have a peculiar significance like some say [wikipedia.org]

      • (Score: 1) by egcagrac0 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @08:16PM

        by egcagrac0 (2705) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @08:16PM (#11496)

        I'm no expert, but I think that hitting an engine would be "bad"... but a tricky shot to make. FAA FOD standards [wikipedia.org] seem to suggest that taking out the engine wouldn't take out the aircraft (although a 50cal round isn't a chicken).

        Putting a half-inch hole in the fuel tank would be a significant annoyance, but I don't think it will take out the aircraft, just prompt an earlier-than-scheduled landing.

        Striking the fuselage wouldn't be good, but the aircraft is likely low enough that depressurization would be catastrophic. The projectile might strike a few passengers - again bad, but not so bad as taking out the whole plane full of passengers.

        • (Score: 1) by egcagrac0 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @09:32PM

          by egcagrac0 (2705) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @09:32PM (#11530)

          Argh, that should be "depressurization would not be catastrophic.

    • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:05PM

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:05PM (#11577) Journal

      This is why I love this community, be it here or at the other site. When something occurs, there is almost always someone knowledgeable involved who can give informed perspective. I wouldn't miss this for the world. It's why, when the dust has settled and the community has decided what funding model it's comfortable with, I will support it. Cthulhu loathe you, geeks of the world!

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 2) by nobbis on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:40PM

    by nobbis (62) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:40PM (#11364) Homepage Journal

    warning to planespotters - do not look at aircraft with remaining eye

    --
    It's easy to look up when your mind's in the gutter
  • (Score: 2) by Boxzy on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:19PM

    by Boxzy (742) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:19PM (#11472) Journal

    I expect the worlds population of blinded people to increase sharply the moment laser weapons are an operational fact.

    --
    Go green, Go Soylent.
  • (Score: 1) by timbim on Wednesday March 05 2014, @08:45PM

    by timbim (907) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @08:45PM (#11508)

    You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here!