IAF chief: 4th Iron Dome battery to be deployed soon

Air Defense Division holds largest draft ever to fill ranks of new missile units.

Iron Dome 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Iron Dome 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel will deploy a fourth battery of the Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system in the coming months and will take delivery of the new David’s Sling missile defense system over the coming year, head of the Israel Air Force’s Air Defense Division Brig.-Gen. Doron Gavish said Wednesday.
Gavish spoke to The Jerusalem Post ahead of the division’s largest-ever draft of soldiers needed to fill the ranks of its increasing number of units and battalions.
“A new recruit who joins the Air Defense Division is enlisting into a division that plays a strategic role in defending the country,” Gavish said.
The IAF currently operates three Iron Dome batteries which have successfully intercepted dozens of rockets over the past year fired from the Gaza Strip.
“The numbers will continue to grow and another battery will become operational in the beginning of the year,” he said.
The Air Defense Division has undergone a transformation over the past two years. Under Gavish’s leadership, the division changed its name from the “Anti-Aircraft Forces” to the “Air Defense Division,” and received a new insignia aimed at underlying how its role has shifted from traditional air defense to include missile defense.
Soldiers in the division are split over a number of missions, including traditional air defense – the division has downed 100 enemy aircraft throughout Israel’s wars – as well as preventing 9/11-style aerial terror attacks and missile defense. Its soldiers operate the Arrow ballistic missile defense system, the Patriot and the Iron Dome.
Some of the soldiers drafted this week will become part of the division’s new battalion which will operate the David’s Sling defense system, designed to intercept medium-range missiles and rockets.
David’s Sling is also designed to defend against cruise missiles, such as those under development in Iran to carry non-conventional warheads.
Gavish said that components of the system will be delivered to the IAF over the coming year but that it would not be declared operational until 2013.
Yossi Druker, head of Rafael’s Air-to-Air Directorate, said that Israel will hold its first interception test of the David’s Sling by April. He said that Rafael and the Defense Ministry recently concluded a series of successful navigation and flight tests of the system.
“We proved that we have the ability to control the missile and maneuver it to where it needs to go,” he said.