The defense establishment seems unlikely to be fazed by the latest Iranian announcement of an upgrade to the Emad long-range ballistic missile, capable of striking Israel.
Not only has Israel been observing Iranian missile developments very closely, it has also spent years building unprecedented, multiple layers of missile defenses, precisely to meet this type of threat.
In December, the Israel Aerospace Industries-made Arrow-3 ballistic missile defense system was successfully tested. An interceptor vehicle was launched from central Israel, exited the atmosphere and struck a target (representing an incoming enemy missile) in space.
Advanced radars and fire control stations can detect such threats long before they approach Israel, and send orders to interceptor missiles.
Lower down, in the upper atmosphere, Arrow- 2 is already operational as a second layer of defense, and this year, the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon-produced David Sling system will become operational. David’s Sling can intercept missile warheads – conventional or not – over enemy territory, far from Israel.
Separately, IAI announced a new line of radars last year, called Spectra and Ultra.
Spectra is capable of unprecedented long-range tracking of targets like ballistic and cruise missiles, and even satellite movements in space, while ULTRA’s strength lies in autonomously searching, detecting, and classifying such threats.
While it is not clear whether Israel purchased these radars, IAI said an unnamed client is already using them.
Additionally, it is safe to assume that the Israel Air Force has a range of classified offensive capabilities it can deploy to target Iranian missile bases if intelligence is received of an imminent launch against Israel.
However, the Iranian boasts of increased accuracy for the Emad missile does represent a disturbing trend. It is a reminder that the Iranian weapons industry is becoming more advanced, and has learned to mass produce precision guided projectiles. Billions of dollars in imminent oil and gas deals will surely bolster this threat, and Iran’s determination to deliver its new products to Hezbollah.
Anything produced on Iranian territory can find its way to Hezbollah weapons depots in southern Lebanon, unless Israel stealthily attempts to disrupt the arms trafficking.
The fact that Iran can produce GPS-guided rockets and missiles, and smuggle them into Lebanon, means that Hezbollah’s arsenal of surface to surface projectiles – already one of the largest arsenals in the world – is becoming more accurate, and therefore, more lethal.
The sheer number of Hezbollah projectiles, most of them unguided, is enough to overwhelm Israeli air defenses at the start of any conflict.
To be sure, Israel, too, is building up its ability to strike thousands of Hezbollah targets every 24 hours, with ever more accurate bombs.
The IAF will be strategically placing air defense batteries to ensure that vital sites continue to function in any situation. But the fact remains that Iranian military industries and military know-how will continue to advance, and make their way to southern Lebanon.
With the lifting of international sanctions following the nuclear deal, that trend is set to continue, and so will the regional arms race.