El Al plane
Photo: Michael Kramer
Europe objects to El Al's anti-missile shield
European countries set to bar Israeli aircraft equipped with ant-missile system from landing at their airports
El Al passenger planes will be barred from landing in some European countries because they have been equipped with defense systems against shoulder-held missiles, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported.


The Swiss aviation authority has already barred El Al aircrafts equipped with the new system from landing in the country, and the German paper said more countries are expected to soon follow.


"If we catch Israeli planes fitted with this system in our airports, they will be grounded," a spokesman for the Swiss aviation authority told Der Spiegel.


The "Flight Guard" defense system is a military system that has been modified to fit civilian aircraft.


This battle-proven system is capable of detecting an approaching missile, warning the crew and automatically activating countermeasures in the form of flares that will divert the missile from its course.


The system has already been installed on a Boeing 767, and will soon be fitted on other planes as well.


'System will cause no damage'


According to defense sources in Israel, the European ban is "odd and based mostly on a misunderstanding." The officials say European countries are primarily concerned about false alarms that will result from the launching of decoy flares over central airports.


"Because these are unique flares, such a malfunction will cause no panic or collateral damages. Instead of thanking Israel, some countries
prefer to stick their head in the sand," an Israeli source said.


However, a source at the Ministry of Transportation said the objection in Europe is not surprising, adding that "countries who oppose the landing of system-equipped planes are not on the list of countries where the threat of a missile attack is high. Therefore, this is not such a big problem."


Arieh Egozy contributed to the report


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