NEW YORK -- In yet another signal that the war with Hamas may be intensifying, Israeli media are reporting that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have deployed an experimental new rocket tracking tracking system in the port city of Ashkelon, near the Gaza border.
The IAI MC4 is now in place and operational in Ashkelon reports The Jerusalem Post.
The MC4, a new product of Israel Aerospace Industries, is an outgrowth of the Arrow anti-missile system jointly developed by Israel and the Pentagon.
The Arrow, a successor to the Patriot, was designed as part of President Reagan's Star Wars anti-missile defense originally designed to counter Soviet ICBMs.
While both the Patriot and the Arrow were designed to intercept and neutralize incoming ballistic missiles, the MC4 is designed to counter much smaller missiles such as 122mm ammunitions including Russi an made Katyusha's.
The smaller missiles are quickly launched and have a much more restricted range, giving the attacker the ability to rapidly move to new locations and minimize any counter-measures.
Tracking such highly mobile launch sites had been very difficult as Israel experienced in fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006.
As a result of the Lebanese war, IAI began a crash program to counter such mini-missiles which caused havoc in Haifa in 2006 and now in the Ashdod-Ashkelon region.
According to The Post, the MC4 had been deployed for field testing in Ashkelon last week, but now has been activated for full operation.
Built by the Malam Missile and Space Factory of IAI, the MC4 uses state-of-the-art technology including GPS and camera sensors to scan areas where rocket launch sites may be suspected.
Once a launch is detected, the MC4 pinpoints the site and projected flight path. It also has the ability to back track launches already in progress.
According to Israeli sources, the MC4 gives the IDF the ability to hit rocket launch sites in a manner that did not exist during the Lebanese war.
The MC4 is said to have the ability to triangulate the coordinates of launch sites within a minute of a firing, giving the IDF a new opportunity to respond to "hit and run" missile attacks. It can also pinpoint targets hit, giving emergency medical teams quicker response times.
Neither the US nor Russia currently have such systems in their arsenals say military sources.
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