Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Israels three levels of missile defense

The first level, the so-called Iron Dome, is expected to be able to intercept rockets with a range from four kilometers to 70 kilometers like the Kassam and Katyusha rockets fired from the Gaza Strip or from south Lebanon. Israel has successfully tested its anti-rocket level of the defense system. An official statement announced that the tests occurred around July 15 and destroyed an unspecified number of incoming rockets. The previous tests which were conducted at the end of March were equally successful. More tests are expected in the next few months before the defense system is deployed in southern Israel to counteract rockets fired by Palestinian militants based in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Israel Air Force Commander Major General Ido Nehushtan said that the system would be operational and deployed in 2010.

General Nehushtan also said that the second level of Israel’s missile defense system, the David’s Sling, would be operational within four years. David’s Sling is intended to intercept medium-range rockets.

The third and final level of the missile defense system, the Arrow 3 would be declared operational shortly afterwards. The Arrow-3 is an advanced version of the current long-range system in operation by the Israeli Air Force:

The Arrow-3 exoatmospheric interceptor includes a two stage interceptor based on hit-to-kill technology. Its compact design, outstanding maneuverability, and divert capability serve to enhance its effectiveness against all types of Theater Ballistic Missiles (TBMs) and warheads. The Arrow-3 also includes a state-of-the-art long range acquisition high resolution EO sensor and has a low life cycle cost (LCC).
While the Arrow-3 are still dreams of the future, Israel plans in coming days to launch an Arrow-2 missile interceptor off the California coast. The Israeli air force as of April had conducted 17 tests of the improved Arrow-2 system. The current exercise would be the first Arrow-2 test to target a mock enemy missile capable of traveling 1,000 km. The test launch will simulate the interception of Iranian ballistic missiles, including the Shahab-3 and the Sajil missiles, as well as more advanced missiles Iran has yet to finish developing.

Picture: Arrow test launch, © Israel Aerospace Industries

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