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Tue, Feb 17, 2004

Singapore Plans For Airborne Missile Defense

National Carrier To Carry Defensive Technology

Singapore's government says it plans to install anti-missile defenses on passenger jets flown by national carrier Singapore Airlines and a subsidiary. Authorities are developing a defensive device that they hope to have ready for use by Singapore Airlines and SilkAir planes in two years, Ministry of Defense spokesman Alex Tan said Sunday.

The government has not yet determined how it will spread the cost between the government and the airline, Tan said. He did not provide a cost estimate. Singapore's military planes are already outfitted with missile defense technology, the spokesman said.

Fears of an attack on commercial jetliners increased after terrorists fired two heat-seeking rockets that missed an Israeli passenger plane taking off from Kenya in November 2002. In November, a shoulder-fired missile struck a DHL cargo plane over Iraq, forcing it to make an emergency landing with its wing on fire. Al Qaeda-linked regional militants are believed to have tried to target Western sites in Singapore and authorities have detained 35 terror suspects.

Some military planes use missile defenses that spew out bits of steel foil that ignite as they hit the air, forming a glowing cloud behind the plane intended to divert a heat-seeking missile. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has commissioned research into adapting anti-missile defense systems to civilian aircraft.



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