FedEx has applied to US authorities for permission to install anti-missile lasers on some of its cargo planes.
With this measure, the transport company wants to operate with more confidence in some parts of the world that it considers dangerous. The company asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to grant it the relevant permits to install a system on its planes that emits infrared laser energy against missiles.
Possibly the company will install these systems in its Airbus A321-200, the model that it usually uses for international freight transport. FedEx submitted its application in 2019, but the FAA has just made it public and has not yet communicated its decision.
In a statement, the FAA explains that in recent years there have been several incidents with man-portable air defense systems in some countries. These have mistakenly fired at civil aircraft, prompting companies to design and adapt anti-missile systems like this one for which FedEx is requesting authorization.
When the system detects that a missile is heading towards the ship, it automatically sends out infrared laser beams so that the device deviates from its route. The beams act as neutralizers for the heat tracking system used by the missiles.
FedEx currently has a global fleet of 650 aircraft and while the chances of one of these incidents happening is low, it is not unlikely. In 2003, eight months after the start of the Iraq War, a surface-to-air missile hit the wing of a DHL cargo plane taking off from Baghdad. Fortunately, the crew managed to land the plane safely and get to safety.