Social media lights up over FedEx anti-missile request: ‘I draw the line at giving lasers to USPS’

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FedEx has requested permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to outfit its cargo planes with a unique tool that may be the first of its kind for mail delivery operations.

“This design feature is a system that emits infrared laser energy outside the aircraft as a countermeasure against heatseeking missiles,” read the document filed on Friday requesting special permission to install the devices on Fedex’s Airbus Model A321-200 airplanes.

The request for an anti-missile system comes after a 2003 incident involving a DHL Airbus A330 that was hit by a surface-to-air missile shortly after takeoff from Baghdad.

“In recent years, in several incidents abroad, civilian aircraft were fired upon by man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS),” the FAA document explained. “This has led several companies to design and adapt systems like a laser-based missile-defense system for installation on civilian aircraft, to protect those aircraft against heat-seeking missiles.”

“The FedEx missile-defense system directs infrared laser energy toward an incoming missile, in an effort to interrupt the missile’s tracking of the aircraft’s heat,” it read.

Before the new system can be approved, it will undergo a 45 day comment period, and many people were already lining up their responses on social media.

***Warning: Language***


Many others reacted strongly to the news of the delivery giant installing a missile defense system on their aircraft which can be summarized succinctly with the popular acronym, “WTF.”

The document noted that “Infrared laser energy can pose a hazard to persons on the aircraft, on the ground, and on other aircraft,” and noted several conditions that would be required if it were to be approved to prevent dangers such as human exposure to infrared laser energy that “can result in eye and skin damage.”

One condition includes “means that prevent the inadvertent activation of the system on the ground, including during airplane maintenance and ground handling,” including all operational scenarios whether they be “intentional, inadvertent, or automatic.

Although regulations require that the design feature is “appropriate for its intended function,” the FAA notes that it “has no basis to determine whether this missile-defense system will successfully perform its intended function of thwarting heat-seeking missiles.

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Ashley Hill

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