National Defence looking to protect VIPs from heat-seeking missiles

The Canadian military is looking for an air defence system to protect its VIP aircraft, including the one used by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, from surface-to-air missiles.

OTTAWA — The Canadian military is looking for an air defence system to protect its VIP aircraft, including the one used by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, from surface-to-air missiles.

And one of Israel’s top defence contractors, Elbit Systems Ltd., has been working behind-the-scenes for months to get in on the anticipated project. The downing of Malaysian Airlines jet MH-17 may have given defence officials more urgency.

The program is meant to deliver a system that will “defeat modern, man-portable infrared missiles.”

It’s part of the National Defence acquisition guide and intended for installation on the air force’s remaining C-144 Challengers as well as the existing fleet of C-150 Polaris aircraft, which includes the prime minister’s Airbus.

The timeline for buying such a system was originally set for 2020 and beyond.

But a government source says officials are taking a closer look at it in light of tragedy over eastern Ukraine and last week’s suspension of flights into Tel Aviv following Hamas rocket attacks near Ben Gurion International airport.

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