A serious and expensive accident occurred this week in the Air Force unit responsible for the Iron Dome rocket defense system in the South. Twenty Iron Dome interceptor missiles fell several meters, causing damage to the missiles but no injuries.

The accident occurred when the missiles were improperly secured while being loaded onto a truck for maintenance, Israel Radio reported.

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A number of soldiers and officers were nearby but none were injured. The rockets are built with a safety mechanism to ensure they only explode when fired at a rocket.

The missiles were damaged and will be removed from the active arsenal, according to the report. Each interceptor costs around $50,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception, putting the monetary cost of the accident at roughly $1 million.

The IDF ordered an immediate investigation into the incident, which senior officials called a case of severe negligence by soldiers and commanders who ignored safety procedures, the IDF Spokesman told Israel Radio. The Iron Dome system will be suspended until the initial investigation is completed.

Israel currently has three Iron Dome batteries deployed in the South and a fourth is slated to be deployed in early 2012. The system has intercepted dozens of rockets since the beginning of the year.

Thursday's incident follows reports that the United States Army is set to decide on the possible purchase of the Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system. The system, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, has already been sold to Singapore, according to foreign reports.

The US Army is interested in using the Iron Dome outside bases in Iraq and Afghanistan that could potentially be targeted by Katyusha rockets. The US military has discovered 107 mm. Katyushas in Iraq in the past. The initial deal is valued at $100 million, but could reach several-hundred-million dollars over a number of years.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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