Three Companies Picked to Test Civilian Missile-defense Systems - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

01/06/04 - Washington

Three Companies Picked to Test Civilian Missile-defense Systems

Federal officials have tapped three companies to develop anti-missile systems to defend commercial airplanes.

A top Homeland Security Department official says BAE Systems, Northrup Grumman and United Airlines will each get two million dollars over six months.

The department's undersecretary for science and technology says the companies are assigned to determine if existing military gear can be adapted.

Military planes and Air Force One use infrared jammers and other gear to redirect heat-seeking missiles away from plane engines.

The companies will develop prototypes, and the government will then decide whether to develop one or more.

Some lawmakers accuse the Bush administration of not doing enough to prevent shoulder-fired anti-aircraft rockets from being fired at jetliners.

It's estimated anti-missile systems would cost about a (m) million dollars a plane.

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