Israel: We need more Iron Dome systems

May 2, 2010 03:01

2 batteries to be deployed soon; IDF wants a dozen more.

2 minute read.

Iron Dome

Iron Dome 311. (photo credit: Channel 10)

Israel has asked Washington for help in buying additional Iron Dome batteries needed to defend the borders with Gaza and Lebanon.

In January, the Iron Dome underwent a round of tests during which it successfully intercepted barrages of mock Kassam and Katyusha rockets. The missile barrages that the system intercepted included a number of rockets that mimicked Kassam and longer-range Grad-model Katyusha rockets that are known to be in Hamas’s arsenal.

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The Iron Dome is supposed to be capable of intercepting all of the short-range rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip and Hizbullah from southern Lebanon. The Iron Dome uses an advanced radar – made by Elta Systems – that locates and tracks the rocket, which is then intercepted by a kinetic missile interceptor called Tamir.

The Defense Ministry initially allocated around $250 million for the development of the system by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the procurement of two batteries, which have already been delivered to the Israel Air Force’s Air Defense Division and are slated to be declared operational in the coming months. The IDF, however, would like to buy more than a dozen additional batteries, the number it requires to provide effective protection for the Gaza and Lebanese borders.

As a result, the Defense Ministry negotiating with the Treasury with the aim of receiving a supplement budget to the defense budget that will be used to buy additional Iron Dome batteries.

The ministry has also approached the Pentagon about the possibility of receiving assistance in funding the project. Officials said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak was supposed to have raised the issue during his talks at the Pentagon last week.

While Israel receives $3 billion in annual military aid from the US, Congress has also traditionally approved a special budget for the development and procurement of the Arrow missile defense system. Last year, for example, the Pentagon allocated a special budget for the development of the Arrow 3, underway by Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing Company.

“This is an issue that we have discussed with the Americans already on several occasions,” one official said last week. “The logic from an American point of view is that it is better to help Israel feel protected and defend its cities than it is for Israel to be under attack and have to launch another operation in Gaza to protect itself.”

As the IAF comes closer to declaring the system operational, the IDF is deliberating whether it will immediately deploy the batteries in the field – it has located positions for the Iron Dome along both volatile borders – or will store the systems in a military base and deploy them based on operational requirements and considerations. The system is mobile and can be deployed within several hours.

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