$100 MILLION FOR S.A.M. COUNTERMEASURES

The White House is committing "$100 million to the first phase of development of an antimissile system that could be installed in passenger airplanes," the New York Times reports.That's tens of millions more than what had previously been proposed for the effort. But since the strikes on an Israeli passenger plane last year, administration officials have become inreasingly spooked by the possibility of terrorists using shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles to take down a commercial jet. Several of these missiles have been fired by Iraqi insurgents at planes attempting to land in Baghdad's airport.The $100 million research program doesn't necessarily mean that passenger planes will be protected from these threats, the Times cautions."The Bush administration has suggested that a decision to outfit commercial planes may be years away," the paper says. "And in the proposal to defense contractors, the Homeland Security Department requested only that prototypes be manufactured. Defense industry officials say that it would cost $1 million to $2 million to outfit a commercial plane with the sort of antimissile technology now used in the Pentagon's fleet."

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