Some future FedEx cargo flights may be equipped with anti-missile laser systems to help protect them from man-portable air defense systems, assuming the business wins authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (MANPADS). If employed, the laser systems would interfere with a missile’s ability to target these cargo planes.
MANPADS have been used to shoot missiles at civilian aircraft on several occasions throughout the years, and they remain a threat to a variety of flights (via State.gov). These incidents, some of which have resulted in death, are frequently caused by misidentification, but the motivation for the action does not influence the outcome.
Laser anti-missile systems, which interrupt the missile’s ability to target a plane, can assist protect against these dangers. But, on the other hand, the laser systems constitute a possible threat to other aircraft and persons on the ground. In addition, these lasers can harm your eyes and cause skin burns, among other things.
In its proposal for these anti-missile laser systems to be installed on Airbus A321-200 aircraft, FedEx states that procedures will be taken to address the safety concerns raised by this sort of defense technology. FedEx first requested authorization to install the protection system on its cargo planes in October 2019, and their request was described in a Federal Register filing.
According to NBC, FedEx runs hundreds of cargo planes, but the Airbus A321-200 isn’t yet part of its fleet. According to the Federal Register filing, the application only covers this specific airplane model and not the whole FedEx fleet.
Whether or not the corporation eventually equips these future planes with anti-missile laser systems depends on whether or not it receives FAA approval. FedEx has not responded to the request as of yet.