The Israel Air Force will take delivery of two Iron Dome batteries with extended ranges by the beginning of 2013.
The move comes as Israel works to bolster its defenses ahead of a future war.
The new batteries will join the four that have already been supplied to the IDF and have seen action over the past year during the various rounds of violence with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. The IAF recently deployed a battery near Eilat ahead of the possibility that rocket fire will increase from the Sinai Peninsula into southern Israel.
The two new batteries will be classified as reserves units and will come equipped with a new block of software as well as a new radar system that will enable each battery to protect a larger area.
“These units will be operated by soldiers from the Iron Dome batteries who are discharged and enter the reserve corps and will be activated also during times of emergency,” an IDF officer explained.
In addition, the IAF plans to take delivery in the coming weeks of an upgraded and improved interceptor that will also contribute to the extension of the Iron Dome’s range. In May, The Jerusalem Post
revealed the air force’s intention to extend the Iron Dome’s range, made possible by technological upgrades as well as modifications to its operational doctrine.
The Iron Dome was originally designed to defend against rockets at ranges from 4 and 70 kilometers.
Each battery consists of a radar system and three launchers, each with 20 Tamir interceptor missiles.
The IAF would not reveal the new range of the upgraded system but officers said that it would lead to a reduction in the number of batteries Israel will ultimately require to protect against short-range rockets fired from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.