An artillery unit launches a surface-to-surface missile towards southern Lebanon from a position in northern Israel July 16, 2006, in this handout picture released by the Israeli Defense Forces July 17, 2006.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AVIV DIVON/HANDOUT/IDF)
The Defense Ministry has signed a deal with Israel Military Industries (IMI) to develop and acquire advanced precision short- and long-range rockets for the IDF, capable of hitting “anywhere in the Middle East.”
The precision firepower will significantly improve the IDF’s capabilities to accurately hit targets from a distance at a low cost relative to other combat systems, according to the ministry.
The acquisition of the new rockets, in a deal worth hundreds of millions of shekels, follows a decision by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to equip the IDF with precision rockets for all distance ranges.
“We are purchasing and developing high-precision systems that bolster the IDF’s offense capabilities,” Liberman said on Monday. He added that some of the systems are already in production and others are nearing the end of the research and development stage.
“The deal for the missile system, which within a few years will allow for coverage for every point in short and far ranges,” Liberman said of the new rockets, some of which will have a range of 30-150 km.
Shell accuracy continues to become increasingly important, since the IDF conducts most of its operations in urban areas.
According to IMI Systems chairman Yitzhak Aharonovich, “The innovative rocket systems that the IDF will receive from this transaction reflect the company’s technological capabilities, which specialize in the ability to fire accurately to strike at a variety of ground targets.”
Surface-to-surface GPS-guided Romach rockets manufactured by IMI became operational in the IDF two years ago. The rockets are designed to strike targets at a range of 35 km. with an accuracy range of under 10 meters, allowing the IDF to strike targets even in the heart of urban centers.
Earlier this month, a senior IDF ground forces officer said the military plans to convert 50% of the army’s land-based ammunition stockpiles into precise weaponry.
During a large-scale drill held in the Golan Heights
in early August, the Golani Brigade 13th Battalion fired a new precision-guided 122 mm. mortar shell, which has flight control capability and accuracy within five meters.
Soldiers from the IDF’s Golani Brigade drill for war with Hezbollah in northern Israel (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Israel’s defense establishment has for years been discussing the need for the IDF to have accurate surface- to-surface missiles with a range of 150 kilometers.
According to a February report by Yediot Aharonot, the army established a vast network of medium-range surface-to-surface missile systems for operation by ground forces. The initial aspects of a planned missile corps are expected to be completed by 2020, according to reports. Those plans are designed to complement Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense system, which is considered an offensive counter to the missile and rocket arsenal held by Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Hezbollah’s arsenal of an estimated 130,000 rockets is comprised mostly of small, portable, unguided surface- to-surface rockets and missiles, with ranges of between 10 km. and 500 km. The group also has several types of surface-to-air and land-tosea missiles.
Israeli officials believe the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group will possess more than 1,000 precision-guided missiles within a decade.
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