IAF sets new wartime airspace code

Army working out kinks in managing deployment of anti-aircraft forces.

August 17, 2010 01:45
1 minute read.
THE IRON DOME system is designed to intercept shortrange rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip

Iron Dome 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

A future war with Hizbullah and Hamas will likely see thousands of missiles fired into Israel. In response, Israel will likely fire hundreds, if not thousands, of interceptors.

With such a busy airspace, how does the Israel Air Force’s fleet of helicopters, fighter jets and drones fit in? This question was at the center of a study conducted by the IAF aimed at setting new guidelines for flying in airspace filled with enemy missiles and Israeli interceptors.

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The study was conducted by the IAF together with its Air Defense Division, which is responsible for operating missile defense systems such as the Arrow, the Patriot and the soon-to-be deployed Iron Dome, which will be used to shoot down short-range rockets like the Katyushas that are the backbone of Hamas’s and Hizbullah’s missile arsenals.

Following the study, the IAF set new guidelines for flying in Israeli airspace including specific altitudes. Interceptors will be deployed in areas that will not endanger Israeli aircraft. The air force has also integrated new communications systems to increase missile-defense operators’ awareness of other assets that are in the air.

“The skies are going to be jammed in a future conflict and we need to learn how to operate everything together,” a senior IAF officer said on Monday.

At the same time, the IDF is in talks with the Defense Ministry regarding the scheduled deployment of the Iron Dome in a few months. The main question is where to deploy the batteries, each of which include a number of launchers and dozens of Tamir interceptors developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

One possibility, supported by the IDF, is to immediately deploy the batteries along the border with the Gaza Strip, where most of the rockets fired at Israel these days are launched from. The alternative is to store the systems in IAF bases and deploy them according to operational requirements.

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