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May 17, 2003

Rafael's Britening protection system was tested on the ground in Ovda Air Force Base in the Negev earlier this year. The aircraft ran its engines to create the strongest IR signature, and the system successfully diverted all the missile seekers
Israel plans missile protection for civilian aircraft

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Following the attempt to shoot down an Arkia Airline Boeing 757 in Mombasa, Kenya, on 28 November 2002, the Israeli government has decided to equip all of the country's commercial aircraft with protection systems.

The Israeli Ministry of Defence is considering several protection systems including Elisra's Passive Airborne Warning System, Rafael's Britening system and a new joint venture by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) subsidiary Elta Systems and Israel Military Industries (IMI) called Flight Guard. IAI intends to install it on a Boeing 737 for the Paris Air Show in June.

Flight Guard comprises two main components: Elta's autonomous radar system, which detects the launch of surface-to-air missiles, and IMI's countermeasures dispensing system, which jams and diverts heat-seeking missiles. The Elta radar is based on similar systems that protect military aircraft. "The system is designed for the maximum safety required for operation in a civilian environment," said Israel Livnat, general manager of Elta Systems. "The flares are intended to burn for a very short time to avoid any damage even if discharged in low altitude."

However, he added, there is a "psychological barrier in certifying a system that releases burning objects around civil airfields. We started a dialogue with the US Federal Aviation Administration and hope to conclude certification by the end of the year." IAI estimates the system's unit cost to be less than US$1 million.

Rafael's Britening, a derivation of the company's Aerogem system, concluded a successful ground test in March. It comprises UV sensors that detect a missile's launch and a new Directed Infra-red Countermeasure, which disrupts the approaching missile's seeker. Rafael chairman Jacob Tore said: "Since the Britening does not involve the use of flares and chaff, which is problematic in commercial aviation, we believe it stands a good chance to be approved by FAA." 298 of 371 words