Fedex looking at anti missile technology on it's aircraft?

I have just had an email pop up in my inbox from a real time aircraft tracking website. Every so often they send an email out with aircraft industry related news.

Today included the following.

FedEx Looks To Add Anti-Missile Lasers To Its Planes.

Memphis-based cargo juggernaut FedEx is planning to add anti-missile lasers to some of its aircraft. The technology will look to counteract the effects of heat-seeking missiles, which have been known to strike aircraft on occasion. It specifically plans to make such modifications to the Airbus A321, an aircraft type that it does not currently have in its fleet.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) turned heads this week when it announced that it is working on a proposal regarding the use of anti-missile lasers on commercial aircraft. The filing, which the FAA released on Friday, details a proposal for the Airbus A321-200, which cargo giant FedEx is reportedly looking to modify which such defensive technology.

The FAA’s filing describes the new equipment as “a novel or unusual design feature when compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes.” After all, such technology is typically seen on exclusive aircraft like private jets or the US’s modified ‘Air Force One‘ Boeing 747s. The FAA explains that:" This design feature is a system that emits infrared laser energy outside the aircraft as a countermeasure against heat-seeking missiles." The Airbus A321 is the aircraft that would receive such technology.

The use of anti-missile systems on commercial aircraft isn’t completely unheard of. Israeli carriers have deployed such technology on their airliners since 2004. El Al, the country’s national airline, was the first to use such systems, with the modification costing $1 million per aircraft.

Interesting. At first, I thought this might be some sort of laser weapon to disable attacking missiles, but the impression I get is that they are for distraction.
A good idea, though, and unnecessary in some places.

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