The Sunday Times seems to be flying another hype kite again:
""El Al jets given missile defence over Heathrow"
Uzi Mahnaimi and Dipesh Gadher
EL AL, Israel?s national carrier, is to become the first passenger airline operating from Britain to deploy anti-missile technology on its planes to safeguard against a terrorist strike.
Israel?s security services are particularly worried about the threat of a shoulder-launched missile being fired at an El Al flight out of Heathrow, which they regard as a ?high risk? airport. In such an event the new anti-missile system will automatically trigger decoy flares to divert the path of an incoming heat-seeking rocket.
The Israeli-developed technology, called Flight Guard, is expected to be installed on all El Al jets flying to and from Britain by the start of next month.
It will also be deployed on flights operating from other sensitive European airports. However, it will not be actively deployed on El Al services to and from America, which forbids flare-based counter-measures, apparently on safety grounds. "
Why then, did two Israeli newspapers Haaretz and Israel Insider both report earlier this month that the Flight Guard system for El Al was delayed, until at least September ? The plan was, apparently to start testing the system on a single El Al cargo plane this June, and to test it for some months, before proceeding to equip 6 El Al planes by the end of the year and all of them by next year. This first test seems to have been postponed until September due to problems at the missile testing range.
In other words this system has not even been tested and approved for use in Israel, let alone at Heathrow airport.
Which contrasts somewhat with the Sunday Times story.
Just because the flares allegedly only burn for a couple of seconds, does not mean that they will always ignite on time, in the same way that cluster bomb munitions do not always detonate on impact, but end up becoming anti-personnel land mines.
Will the Home Secretary David Blunkett and Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling resign when the thermite flares are triggered accidentally and cause the risk of fire in the heavily built up urban area which surrounds Heathrow airport, or which cause acccidents on the M25, one of the busiest sections of motorway in the world, directly under the Heathrow flightpath ?
Where are the independent Civil Aviation Authority and Health & Safety Executive tests and risk assessments of this, or any similar system, for use in the UK ? The next generation systems under development involve the use of laser beams to try to jam the missiles. but a laser powerful enough to do this must also, by definition, be capable of blinding people on the ground.
There is going to be furious opposition to this "plan" by local residents around Heathrow c.f. HACAN ClearSkies
Does the Sunday Times actually know of an accelerated plan to deploy this system at Heathrow even before the testing in Israel is complete, or is this another case of the Sunday Times penchant for "intelligence sources" spin and hype ?
Who owns shares in, or takes commissions or advertising from, Israeli Military Industries, the company which is selling the technology ?