Saturday, December 26, 2009

one step closer to the expensive Iron Dome

Israel successfully completed another series of tests of the Iron Dome, the first level of its multi-layered missile defense umbrella which is designed to intercept missiles and rockets at ranges between 4 and 77 kilometers. Two other tests took place earlier this year back in July and in March.

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the assessment within the Defense Ministry and military had been that the interceptor would explode 10 meters from the incoming missile. The Iron Dome is not solely a hit-to-kill system, but it can also engage short-range missiles and rockets using shrapnel, enabling it to stop or divert an incoming missile from a distance of three meters. However, there was no need to use these additional measures during the recent test-launch because it exceeded the expectations by far. The two missiles “met head on".

This system is to enter service in 2011, but could be rushed into service sooner. Other sources refer to Israeli Defense Forces sources and Rafael officials according to whom the Iron Dome is expected to be ready in about half a year.

Israel received the reward for this successful test in a jiffy: on December 21, US President Barack Obama has signed a defense spending bill that includes $202 million in funds for Israel's missile defense programs. Over at Asian Defence you can read:

The Arrow-3, a controversial program that initially faced push-back from US Pentagon officials, will now get $50m as opposed to the $37m originally requested by the administration. In addition, the short-range ballistic missile defense program will get $80m., with the balance for the existing long-range program. The total is some $25m more than was approved last year.
A total of US$ 225 million have been invested by Tel Aviv in the project so far. This amount of money is expected to be sufficient for a prototype, the construction of two batteries and the production of a limited number of interception missiles. A single battery is considered sufficient to protect the area of a medium-size city and its environs.

Israel will gladly accept the additional money. Defense officials admit that the cost of intercepting missiles with the system may be as much as $50,000 each.

No comments: