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The security ‘pod’ will be fitted to the plane’s fuselage

Israel’s national carrier has decided to invest over $300 million in a new laser-based security system for each of its 38 planes, in an effort to combat the threat of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

Dubbed C-MUSIC by manufacturers Elbit Systems Ltd, the pioneering technology has now passed all its field trials after years of tests.

The kit, measuring 9 feet by two feet and bolted to the plane’s fuselage, comprises an infrared camera and a powerful laser to disable the missile on its approach, causing it to detonate at a safe distance.

The idea first came about in 2002, after terrorists armed with Russian-made SAMs tried to down an Israeli plane taking off from Mombasa, Kenya.

Fortunately they missed, but ever since security planners have sought to develop a system that could thwart any similar attacks in the future, acutely aware that the next team taking aim may be more accurate.

The anti-missile defence system will cost the airlines $3 million per plane and there are plans to fit it to all planes belonging to Israeli airlines. Elbit will also market the system internationally, with several big US carriers reportedly interested.