Tags: Israel | defense | shield | rockets

Israel Successfully Tests Missile Defense Shield Against Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran Rockets

Wednesday, 06 Jan 2010 11:53 PM


The Iron Dome short-range missile defense system passed a series of tests over the last few days with flying colors, successfully shooting down Qassam rockets, Grad rockets and mortar shells one after the other.

It even succeeded in determining which missiles to shoot down - those whose trajectory made them likely to land in a populated area - and which to ignore.

This was the first test of the system as a whole rather than individual components.

The results are a feather in the cap of the developer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which succeeded in transforming the highly complex system from an idea into an almost fully operational product in just two and a half years. The first operational battery is expected to be deployed in May.

Credit also goes to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his ministry's outgoing director general, Pinchas Buchris, for pushing the project.

It is hard to exaggerate the importance of the successful tests.

Iron Dome is supposed to provide protection against missiles with a range of between four and 70 kilometers. That covers everything from mortar shells through Hamas' Qassams, Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets and even Iranian Fajr rockets, which have apparently made their way to the Gaza Strip. As such, it radically improves Israel's strategic position.

Nevertheless, protection of Israel's home front remains far from complete.

First, Iron Dome has yet to be tested in a genuine attack.

Second, Israel still lacks any additional missile batteries beyond the prototype just tested.

Third, the intermediate layer of Israel's missile defense system - Magic Wand, which is supposed to handle missiles with longer ranges than those covered by Iron Dome but shorter than the long-range ballistic missiles covered by the Arrow - has yet to reach a similarly advanced stage of development, and is not expected to do so until 2012.

The first Iron Dome battery will be delivered to the air force in about six weeks and is slated, if all goes well, to become operational in May. A single missile battery is enough to protect a medium-sized city like Sderot.

To read full Haaretz story — Go Here Now.

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