Missile Defense Versus Movies?


Working with our colleagues in the electronic mass media has its challenges. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes they rest cameras on your foot, shine nuclear-powered lights in everyone's face, and ask pointed questions such as "How many jobs will this bring to the area?" and "How does this make you feel?"

I was called by a CNN producer yesterday. They wanted to interview me on-camera about the need for directed infrared countermeasures (Dircm) on commercial aircraft, which I reviewed in this week's Aviation Week & Space Technology. On the phone and in a 20-minute interview, I reminded them of some of the things I'd told readers: Despite dire predictions following the 2002 missile attack on an Arkia 757 flying out of Mombasa, there had not only been no shootdowns of commercial aircraft with a manportable air defense system (Manpads) in the past ten years, there hadn't been a reported attack; Israel, which regards its aircraft as priority targets, is only adopting Elbit's C-Music Dircm for flights into specific destinations; comparing the cost of Dircm to inflight entertainment was misleadingly selective (IFE costs money, but so do no-charge drinks, frequent-flyer programs and business-class seats). 

None of this made its way into the story. 

CNN did highlight the fact that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) picked up on the MH17 shootdown as a reason to revive the call for Dircm on the U.S. commercial fleet. So has Sen. Mark Kirk, the Republican from Illinois, where Northrop Grumman makes Dircm systems. The fact that Dircm would be as much use against Buk-M1 as a Nerf bat was soft-pedaled. 

You might ask me how this all makes me feel, but you probably already guessed. 

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