Elta's Flight Guard is a missile detection and avoidance system that is installed on more than 200 military aircraft and helicopters as well as on several VIP commercial aircraft, and has been also installed in aircraft of the El Al, Arkia and Israir fleets that fly to high risk destinations.
In September 2003, a year after an attempt was made to shoot down an Arkia Israel Airlines Boeing 757 in Mombasa, Kenya in 2002, the Israeli Ministry of Transportation selected Elta Systems to perform advanced flight tests of Flight Guard for protecting its commercial aircraft. Part of the funding was used to obtain certification of the system by Israel's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The system chosen comprised a radar-based missile approach warning system (MAWS) and countermeasure dispensing system. The system was chosen since it is specifically designed to defend low-flying aircraft against MANPADs, such as those utilized in the attack in Kenya. The automated system uses doppler radar to detect incoming missiles, before firing IMI-designed civilian flares to decoy incoming infrared-homed missiles.
The system has proved controversial, with both Switzerland and the FAA in the US raising fire hazard safety concerns. The Swiss have stated that any aircraft with the system installed will be grounded, despite uncovering a plot to down an El Al aircraft in that country; other European countries have indicated that they might follow suit.
Although Flight Guard was approved by the Israeli CAA and several other countries, the Israel authority decided to buy a laser-based jamming system called Multi-Spectral Infrared Countermeasure (MUSIC) which began development in 2008, that does not use flares. As of Nov 2009, few commercial aircraft have anti-aircraft missile protection systems, and these rely on flares as the countermeasure.
- Common Infrared Countermeasures program
- Northrop Grumman Guardian
- AN/ALQ-144 - Infrared guided missile countermeasure system
- Directional Infrared Counter Measures
- 2002 Mombasa hotel bombing - attack was co-ordinated with the shootdown attempt.
- List of airliner shootdown incidents
- Williams, Dan (2006-02-16). "El Al Fits Fleet with Anti-Missile System". defensenews.com. Retrieved 2007-10-24. External link in
- Vause, John (May 24, 2004). "Missile defense for El Al fleet". CNN. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- "Kenyan police find Mombasa missiles". BBC News. 2002-12-06. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- "Swiss 'foiled hit on Israeli jet'". BBC News. 2006-06-08.
- Beck, Eldad (2006-02-26). "Europe objects to El Al's anti-missile shield". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- "Israel to Fund System to Protect Commercial Aircraft from Missiles". defensetalk.com. 2007-10-12. External link in
- Flight Guard (Photographs and technical specifications)