Israel is seeking sped up production of of Iron Dome batteries, Moshe Patel, Director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, revealed on Monday.
The statement comes as Hamas continues to produce thousands of rockets in Gaza, Hezbollah imports rockets and missiles from Iran and Syria, and as ISIS joins the list of threats to the Israeli home front.
Speaking at the Israel Air Missile Defense Conference at Rishon Lezion, which was organized by the iHLS website, Patel said Israel is in talks with Iron Dome’s maker, Rafael, and co-producer, the US defense company Raytheon, to see which company could increase production of Iron Dome batteries.
“Our main activity is to add more Iron Dome batteries,” Patel said, “either in Rafael, or Raytheon, or both.”
Iron Dome shot down some 1500 Gazan rockets fired at Israel since becoming operational.
Recently, it held a trial in which interceptors shot down drones, Patel stated. The low cost of its interceptors make Iron Dome the air defense system of choice, he added.
Patel also provided new details on the development of Rafael’s David Sling system, which can shoot down short, medium-range, and long-range threats, hitting them far from Israel’s borders.
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David’s Sling will use sensors located on the ground, and in the air, to intercept cruise missiles, Patel said.
Patel said he hoped David’s Sling would go online “soon.” He paid tribute to cooperation with the US military and industries, adding that he was “very proud to have such a friend [in the United States].”
Joint exercises with the US military are designed to ensure that it can “deploy and integrate with our systems in an emergency,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Arrow 3 system, which destroys incoming ballistic missiles in space, is due for another interception trial shortly, Patel said.
He indicated that mass production of Arrow 3 - which is produced by Israel Aerospace Industries - and of David’s Sling should begin in the coming months.
During the conference, Patel projected a photograph of an Iranian ballistic missile that was fired during a test in March, with the words “Israel must be wiped out” written on it.
“This is the world we are facing. We think our multi-tier shield can cope with this threat,” he said. :We are facing a lot of technological challenges and problems [from our enemies]. But this is why we are here,” Patel added.
Maj.-Gen. Glenn A. Bramhall, Commander of the 263rd US Army and Command, which is responsible for air defenses in Washington DC, also spoke at the conference.
He lamented a decision taken by the US Army several years ago to cut back its short-range air defense battalions, adding this “badly compromised” America’s ability to “defend our nation and ground forces.”
The US was left only with Patriot and high-altitude air defenses, and a small number of units capable of short-range defenses (also known as Shorad), Bramhall said. “You would think that after the events of 9-11, it would be a wake up call to the senior leadership, that we don’t need to be on a predicable route,” he said, offering frank criticism at the conference.
“We have to be able to meet the demands of an unpredictable world,” Bramhall added, describing a “whole spectrum of threats,” from ballistic missiles to precision artillery.
“Right now, our formations do not have the ability to combat unmanned systems, because Shorad was taken out of the army,” he said.
“We have lulled ourselves into a false sense of security,” Bramhall warned, criticizing the inability to “protect against simple, unsophisticated threats.”
“Unfortunately, I can’t go back in time, and get back 14,000 highly-trained short range air defense forces to protect the ground forces,” Bramhall said. In Washington DC, he added, “I use Shorad because as far I am concerned it is a reliable, relevant system.”
To rebuild short-range defenses, Bramhall said, he launched a new initiative that relies on cooperation with other military branches, agencies, and international development of systems.
“The Israel Defense Forces have taken the necessary steps to dominate the air space,” Bramhall said. Those who fail to dominate the sky are destined to be buried under it, he warned.
“We in the US Army can learn so much from what Israel does. As air defenders, we have the responsibility of defending the people of the US, just like you have the responsibility of defending the people of Israel,” he said.
“What I do is become unpredictable. I look at the way my enemy is unpredictable, and I look to industry to give me solutions. In defending Washington DC, my soldiers learn to be unpredictable,” the American general stated.
Lt.-Col. Urlich Schmidt Narischkin, of Germany’s Defense Ministry, spoke of the need to continue to build-up NATO’s ballistic missile defense, which is designed to counteract an Iranian attack.
The Iran nuclear deal failed to address the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program, he said, noting that “this remains a concern for us.”
“Questioning the [NATO missile defense] program by referring to the Iran deal is a clear misperception. Security experts understand this.
However I do see a constant need of convincing our public why we do need a program after all,” Narischkin said.
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