FedEx has applied to the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to equip its Airbus A321-200 fleet with a laser defense system. This anti-missile system prevents the thermal tracking of aircraft by missiles by sending infrared lasers.
According to Reuters, FedEx has applied for this permit, referring to several air accidents in which missile systems were used to attack civilian aircraft. FedEx first applied for the laser defense system in October 2019.
The Department of Aviation says these defense systems can be licensed, but there are special conditions for them that must first be accepted. For example, these systems must have special safety precautions to ensure that they do not operate on the ground and do not harm other aircraft or people.
The idea of using defense systems in aircraft is not new. Some US aircraft have been using anti-missile defense systems since 2008. However, FedEx’s position as a postal service company is slightly different and unique in its kind. If the company can obtain the necessary license to use the laser defense system, more commercial aircraft will probably follow this procedure.
According to the State Department, more than 40 civilian aircraft have been shot down by portable air defense systems since the 1970s. It remains to be seen whether FedEx will accept the terms of the Aviation Authority. A company spokesman has so far declined to comment on the aviation authority’s statement.