Homeland Security: Protecting Airliners from Terrorist Missiles [Updated March 25, 2003]   [open pdf - 979KB]

"The Congressional Research Service addresses the recent terrorist threats against commercial airliners by way of shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). As a result of CRS's investigation, various recommendations are made to Congress in an effort to curtail these attacks. CRS presents a menu of options including installing infrared (IR) countermeasures on aircraft; modifying flight operations and air traffic control procedures; improving airport and regional security; and strengthening missile non-proliferation efforts. CRS asserts that equipping aircraft with missile countermeasure systems can protect the aircraft even when operating in areas where ground-based security measures are unavailable or infeasible to implement. However, this option has a relatively high cost, between $1 million and $3 million per aircraft, and the time needed for implementation does allow for immediate response to the existing terrorist threat. Procedural improvements such as specific flight crew training, altering air traffic procedures to minimize exposure to the threat, and improved security near airports may be less costly than countermeasures and could more immediately help deter domestic terrorist attacks. However, these techniques by themselves cannot completely mitigate the risk of domestic attacks and would not protect U.S. airliners flying to and from foreign airports."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31741
Public Domain
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