The US Department of Homeland Security (Dhs) is testing anti-missile systems on commercial aircraft for the first time.

Bae Systems has been awarded a US$29m contract to install its JetEye aircraft missile defence system on up to three American Airlines aircraft flying between New York’s JFK Airport and California.

The company will evaluate the system’s compatibility with daily passenger airline operations and maintenance.

BAE will also look at whether the systems are effective in helping prevent a terrorist from using a shoulder-fired missile to shoot down a passenger jet.

The system works like a jamming device which sends a heat-seeking missile off course.

JetEye’s missile-defeating capability has already been tested at government test ranges, and will not be tested on commercial flights.

The trial is part of the third phase of the DHS Counter-Man-Portable Air Defence System (MANDAPS) programme, designed to commercialise proven military technology and gauge its suitability for protecting US commercial aircraft.

By staff writer