Israel’s missile defence to be operational in 18 months


Jerusalem : Israel’s short-range rocket-based missile interception systems will become operational in 18 months, local daily Ha’aretz reported Thursday.

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Officials at Rafael, or the National Authority for Development of Weapons and Military Technology, were quoted as saying that the system, named Iron Dome, will use the Israel Defence Forces’ early warning radar system to identify short-range missiles and rockets in flight.

It will not only have the ability to intercept Qassam rockets, usually fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, but is also meant to protect against the Lebanese Hezbollah and Syria’s Katyusha rockets, they added.

According to the report, after the launch is confirmed, Iron Dome will locate the speeding rocket through a dedicated radar.

Once the system acquires the rocket as a target, it will launch a rocket of its own to intercept the hostile missile mid-flight.

The entire target acquiring process is performed in less than one second, and the system is designed to launch the intercepting rocket approximately one second after the hostile rocket is detected on radar.

A single Iron Dome launch costs between $30,000 and $40,000 said Ha’aretz.

Wednesday, Ha’aretz also reported that the Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak is insisting on commissioning an operational Iron Dome system as a prerequisite for an Israeli pullout from the West Bank.

Palestinian militants have launched tens of thousands of Qassam rockets into southern Israel from Gaza in the past seven years, killing some 12 Israelis, according to the Israeli army.

Israelis also fear West Bank militants could someday produce missiles and launch them into nearby Israeli cities.