The Federal Aviation Administration is considering special conditions that would allow FedEx to install an infrared anti-missile laser on certain cargo planes, in response to a years-old request from the international shipping giant.
In October 2019, FedEx applied for a supplemental certificate to install a missile defense system that directs infrared laser energy toward heat-seeking missiles on the Airbus A321-200, a twin-engine model that has a maximum takeoff weight of 89,000 pounds, according to the FAA's filing on Friday.
The agency is accepting public comment on the proposal, and if the special conditions are approved, FedEx could move forward with the installation of the defense system on the A321-200.
According to Reuters, FedEx does not currently operate any Airbus 321s, but the FAA stated that the company could apply for the same defense system special conditions on other models.
FedEx did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.
There have been several instances over the years in which civilian aircraft have been fired upon and even hit by man-portable air defense systems known as MANPADS in hostile areas overseas. The risk prompted a number of companies to design or adapt their own defense systems for planes in response to the threat.
In 2003, a DHL cargo plane was hit during takeoff by a MANPAD in Baghdad, Iraq. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing, but the three crewmen on board were not injured.