posted on Dec, 27 2004 @ 05:00 AM
The high profile and busy Los Angeles international Airport is stepping up its security to guard against potential man portable surface to air missile
threats. The step-up involves increased training specific to the threat as well as additional helicopter patrols are being deployed. Security
officials admit the air patrols may not prevent a launch, but could allow for a rapid tracing back to the launchers.
Perimeter and air patrols are being beefed up at Los Angeles International as defense against possible shoulder-fired missile attacks on commercial
aircraft, a top security official said.
Security officials are undergoing training specific for that threat, and additional helicopter patrols are being deployed, John Miller, head of the
Los Angeles Police Department's counterterrorism bureau, told Airports Friday. While air patrols would not be able to counter a launched missile
strike, they could give officials an important vantage point over the adjacent waterfront.
And, Miller added, if an attack were launched several miles away, an air patrol could trace the contrails back to the assailants.
"This is something terrorists are already trying," Miller said.
Miller noted that shoulder-fired missiles have been used against commercial flights in recent years, most recently against a cargo plane at Baghdad
International. About 20,000 shoulder-fired missiles are on the black market, and no one knows how many could have been smuggled into the U.S., he
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This potential threat is going to be hard to counter in my humble opinion. Missiles like the Stinger are relatively portable and have a decent
lethality. They can be fired quickly and require little set up. Given the urban areas most busy airports operate in it will be impossible to cover all
potential launch points. While increased patrols and security are important, much more work and emphasis must be placed on protection systems for