We’ve known it for a long time, but why is the St. Louis Post-Dispatch now running as its Sunday headline, page one, above the fold, Missiles may be next big threat to U.S. airliners?
The nation’s airline industry is a shoulder-launched missile attack away from plunging into a financial tailspin, one that could trigger $1 trillion-plus in financial losses in this country.
Five years after the devastating attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. passenger jets still have no response to a shoulder-launched missile that can be purchased on the black market for as little as $5,000 and can hit a target more than a mile away. If beefed-up airline security continues to keep terrorists and their bombs off commercial flights, shoulder-launched missile attacks pose a likely alternative, experts say.
“Terrorists are a lot like electricity: They take the path of least resistance,” said Jack Pledger, an executive at defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. “Instead of working out elaborate methods, terrorists go to the next-easiest thing. If you take out these easy things, you drive them to using” a shoulder-launched missile.
Pledger is director of business development for Northrop Grumman’s infrared-countermeasure program, which is testing a system that disrupts a shoulder-launched missile’s guidance system. The cost of the system would be less than $1 million for each plane if Northrop were to receive enough orders to warrant high-rate production.
Such a deal! But the government and the airlines are not willing to choke up the million dollars’ plus that Northrop Grumman charges for the solution. Ergo, it’s time to gin up some outrage so The People force the airlines, hardly awash in slush funds, or the government, too awash in taxpayer slush, to bolster its bottom line.