The Elbit-made system, which is estimated to cost $1 million per unit, is considered to be the most sophisticated system of its kind. Recent photos of the presidential plane show the special cell containing the device attached to the belly of the plane, the back and behind the wings. Israeli airline El Al has already been equipped with the system.
Défens’Aéro, a French blog specializing in aviation, noticed the newly installed system after seeing photographs of the plane two weeks ago in Bordeaux.
According to French news agency AFP, an anonymous French security official confirmed the system.
The system consists of smart thermal cameras that identify an incoming missile and targets the missile with a laser beam. The specialized beam interferes with the missile's targeting system, deflecting it off its trajectory and allowing it to explode at a safe distance from the plane.
Shoulder-fired missiles are now the main dangers facing aircraft, especially in war zones. They are relatively cheap, accessible and easy to operate.
The presidential plane also serves the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls as well as the Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs.