IDF postpones final tests of Iron Dome defense system

IAF hopes to have anti-rocket system operational soon; final tests expected to include interception of suspected Hamas missiles.

Iron Dome 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Iron Dome 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The IDF has postponed by several weeks the final tests of the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system, which were scheduled to take place recently, due to delays in the final development stages.
After the tests, the much anticipated active protection system was supposed to be declared operational.
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The IDF had planned to reach “initial operational capability” for the Iron Dome, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, over the summer, but then postponed the date until November. The new target date has now been moved back by a few weeks.
The final tests are expected to include the interception of barrages of the various missiles and rockets that Hamas is believed to possess in the Gaza Strip, and will be very similar to the last round of tests held in July. The main difference will be that the Israel Air Force will operate the system during the tests, while the previous rounds were overseen by the Defense Ministry’s Research and Development Authority.
“The development process has not yet been completed,” IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan said on Tuesday.
“The moment it is completed, the system will be delivered to the air force for final tests before declaring it operational.”
An Iron Dome battery is made up of a multimission radar unit developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, capable of tracking several targets, as well as a missile launcher containing 20 interceptors developed by Rafael.
The system is designed to protect an area of approximately 100 On Sunday, top IDF officers met with representatives of the defense companies involved to announce the cancellation of the tests and the additional delay in the planned target date for going operational.
Nehushtan said the IDF had yet to make a final decision regarding the deployment of the system, which is currently being stored at the Hatzor air base near Ashdod. A decision on whether to deploy it around the Gaza Strip would be made based on the operational requirements at any given time, he said.
The IAF has so far taken receipt of two Iron Dome batteries and is waiting to receive the $205 million pledged for the system by the Obama administration, which will enable the IAF to buy another two or three batteries as well as the accompanying interceptors.