Hugh Pickens writes: "As many as three American Airlines passenger jets will be outfitted this spring with laser technology intended to protect planes from missile attacks. The tests, which could involve more than 1,000 flights, will determine how the technology holds up under the rigors of flight. The technology is intended to stop attacks by detecting heat from missiles, then responding in a fraction of a second by firing laser beams to jam the missiles' guidance systems. A Rand study in 2005 estimated it would cost about $11 billion to protect every US airliner from shoulder-fired missiles and that over 20 years, the cost to develop, procure and operate anti-missile systems could hit $40 billion. "The main issue is, 'Is this a prudent use of resources?' and from what we have seen, that question has not been answered," said John Meenan, executive vice president of the Air Transport Association."