Missile defense systems have reportedly been installed on Israeli commercial flights servicing the southern city of Eilat. The system, developed by Elbit Systems has been approved for service on commercial airliners last year and has been selectively deployed on international flights to destinations deemed ‘high risk’ by Israel’s security services.
According to news reports in Israel, the Israeli defense establishment gave the order to deploy the SkyShield missile defense systems to Arkia and Israir flights to Eilat two weeks ago, after an Islamic State-affiliated group carried out a major offensive against the Egyptian military in the Sinai. Egyptian Islamic groups affiliated with the Islamic State have released video clips showing firing of Man Portable Air Defense Missile Systems (MANPADS) in Northern Sinai.
Eilat is served by two airports – the local city airport located adjacent to the city’s tourist center and the civilian annex of the military airfield in Ouvda, supporting the larger carriers.
The Israelis are concerned that terrorist groups operating in the Sinai Peninsula may try to attack planes flying near the border between Israel and Egypt en route to and from Eilat.
The SkyShield is based on Elbit Systems’ C-MUSIC podded DIRCM system that combines a missile approach warning and laser countermeasure system to defeat heat-seeking ground-to-air missiles. The system is a derivatives of the MUSIC system deployed on a wide range of military and VIP aircraft.