Military deciding on anti-rocket system

Israeli version counters Kassams, Zilzals; US laser defense also considered.

January 29, 2007 08:43
1 minute read.
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After months of deliberation, Israel's security establishment expects to decide within a few days on a system that will protect Israel's Gaza periphery and northern communities from rocket and missile attacks. While the Skyguard laser defense system developed by the US defense firm Northrop-Grumman was given serious consideration, Israel Radio reported, it appeared that the military preferred the system developed by Israel's Armament Development Authority, Rafael, which can reportedly neutralize both Kassam rockets and long-range Zilzal missiles. According to Israel Radio, defense officials were also looking into a system developed by the Israel Aircraft Industries. Earlier this month, The Jerusalem Post reported on a meeting between Israeli officials and representatives of Northrop Grumman, one of whom said during a visit to Tel Aviv that the number of units Israel would need to defend its southern and northern fronts was less than defense officials had initially estimated. He said the system could be delivered to Israel within a year and a half. "One unit could defend Sderot and one unit could defend Ashkelon," the official said. "We can also have an operational system in Israel within 18 months of when the order is made." Northrop Grumman had been asking for a meeting with Israeli defense officials for several months but the meeting was only set after the US company received permission from the Pentagon to present Israel with classified information concerning the capabilities of the newly-upgraded system. One system has already been tested at the US Armed Forces missile range in White Sands, New Mexico and, according to Northrop Grumman, could be operational and deployed in Israel within six months. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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