American Senators appealed to George W. Bush to do everything possible to protect civilian planes from surface-to-air missiles. The new threat for the USA was first mentioned last week, after unidentified terrorists fired two surface-to-air missiles at an Israeli Boeing-757 taking off the airport of Mombasa, Kenya. Both missiles missed, narrowly, and the plane continued its flight with 261 passengers and ten crew members on board. Several minutes after the attack on the plane, Kenyan terrorists attacked a hotel belonging to Israelis; three Israelis and ten Kenyan citizens were killed in the attack. The USA believes that the attacks in Kenya were committed by a so-called Somali-Kenya group related to al-Qaeda, which has been in operation for ten years already.
American congressmen and senators immediately understood the awful danger of the new methods employed by terrorists. Like during the 9/11 tragedy, there is once again a real danger to passengers of US air liners. Senator Richard Shelby voiced these apprehensions: “There are thousands of surface-to-air missiles in the world. You can buy and transport them. This is one methods to deliver a blow against the USA.” The US Department of Transportation reports that it has been working on the problem together with law enforcement authorities for several months already. But will all this work be a successful? American congressmen understand that the Kenya attacks are just another wave of struggle against the USA and Israel, and new technologies are being employed at that.
Neither the US Congress nor the Senate know how to struggle against surface-to-air missiles, which can be launched right from the shoulder. The problem is under the jurisdiction of special services fighting with terrorism. President Bush won’t need any special approval for the organization of special measures for the security of civilian planes. What can Americans do?
New agencies report statements of several Israeli experts. These Israeli experts say that the Boeing that took off from Mombasa was probably protected with special equipment fixed to planes for anti-missile protection.
Israeli politician Hirsh Goodman says with reference to a publication made in America’s Aviation Week ten years ago, that El-Al planes were equipped with anti-missile systems. The measure was taken by the Israeli national airline after an attempt of terrorists to launch a missile against a passenger plane in the mid-1970s. Goodman told the France Presse agency: “I cannot guarantee that the Akria plane was equipped with this system.”
Israel Air Force Major General Dan Halutz says, “several commercial planes” in Israel are equipped with such systems. This information was also confirmed by the former minister of transport of Israel, Efraim Sneh. In his words, Israel appealed to Boeing and Airbus for the installation of anti-missile systems similar to those ones produced for war planes on Israel’s commercial planes. No information can be obtained from Boeing in this respect yet.
The systems installed in war planes detect approaching missiles launched from the surface. In order to lead the missiles astray, the systems sends its own signal flares, which are placed on the plane’s wings. Installation of this system on a plane may cost even 3 million dollars more than the plane itself.
It is not clear how the US Administration will protect the US civilian planes. After the 9/11 attacks, measures were taken to protect passengers from attacks from the air. Currently, terrorists once again threaten civilian planes; however, from the surface this time.
Sergey Borisov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2002/5/16/43/3826_.html
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