A BAE Systems asset to shield aircraft from terrorist shoulder-mounted man-portable missiles (MANPADs) has been installed on an American Airlines plane, BAE announced.

The BAE Jeteye infrared missile defense system completed its first flight on a scheduled American Airlines aircraft flying from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to Los Angeles International Airport.

This begins the final phase of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program to test suitability of missile protection equipment for commercial aircraft. Previously, the technology was evaluated successfully on an American Airlines [AMR] test aircraft and an ABX Air, Inc. cargo aircraft, BAE stated.

As part of the DHS anti-MANPADs program, Jeteye will be installed on two further American Airlines 767-200 aircraft for daily cross-country flights between now and March. The service evaluation will demonstrate the system’s maintainability and reliability, as well as overall suitability with the airline industry. There will be no live-fire testing during these flights.

Separately, DHS had a rival anti-MANPADs system by Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] called Guardian installed on aircraft for a period. The test ended, and the Guardian systems were removed from the planes.

BAE Systems is partnered with American Airlines Maintenance and Engineering Services, which provided the test aircraft and engineering services for development and refinement of Jeteye installation, operation, and support.

The system draws from expertise developed by BAE Systems during decades of effort protecting military aircraft with directable infrared countermeasures technology.

DHS awarded BAE Systems a $29 million contract for this final suitability evaluation phase of the anti-MANPADS program in January. The company developed the Jeteye system during earlier phases of the program, which began in January 2004. It since has received $105 million in funding.

BAE Systems has delivered more than 14,000 infrared countermeasure systems of all kinds worldwide, more than all other participating companies combined, according to BAE.