The Ukrainian city of Mariupol is looking into purchasing the Iron Dome missile defense system from Israel in order to protect the city’s airport.
Mariupol is the largest city in the Ukraine’s Donetsk region that has seen incessant fighting with Russian-backed troops since 2014 in a war that has killed some 14,000 people and displaced millions more. The city’s airport, which is near the border with Russia, has been closed since the fighting broke out.
But with a lull in fighting, city officials have been wanting to reopen the airport in order to redevelop the industrial port city that sits on the Azov Sea.
The deputy mayor of the city, Sergei Zakharov, said in an interview with local press that reopening the skies as well as modern infrastructure to protect the airport and surrounding skies are two of the main points that are needed in order to reopen the airport.
According to the mrpl.city news website, Zakharov said that while the city doesn’t need a large airport, it needs a safe one. And while the city has seen relative quiet in recent years, a massive buildup of Russian troops along the border in May fueled fears of another military offensive by Moscow.
Pointing to Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, he said that flights are allowed despite the fact that the airport is located “8 km. from the buffer zones.” Mariupol’s airport is 40 km. from the delimitation zone set by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
“For security, the Israelis use the Iron Dome tactical defense system. We can also adopt this practice and we have already laid the groundwork in this area and are aware of the steps needed to be taken,” Zakharov said.
The deputy mayor said that the cost of purchasing the system “is about €50 million” and that the city has already contacted an Israeli security company who will be sending a delegation at the end of June.
Israel’s Defense Ministry and Rafael Advanced Systems, the primary contractor for the Iron Dome, did not respond for comment.
The MMR radar is developed by ELTA, a subsidiary of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and the command and control system is developed by mPrest.
After a lengthy development process, and with the financial help of the United States, the Iron Dome went into service in April 2011, with its first battery placed near the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. Just days later it made its first interception of a Grad rocket fired from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel. To date, the Iron Dome has successfully carried out over 2,400 interceptions.
The Iron Dome has been used during two military operations against terror groups in the Hamas-run coastal enclave and during the rounds of violence along the Gaza border in recent years.
The system also intercepted 90% of the over 4,000 rockets and missiles fired by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad during the recent Operation Guardian of the Walls. Rockets fired towards Israel from Syria have also been intercepted by the system.
The system carries 24 pounds of explosives and can intercept an incoming projectile from 4-70 km. away and is able to calculate when rockets will land in open areas, choosing not to intercept them, or towards civilian centers.
The Iron Dome, which is designed to shoot down short-range rockets, is an integral component of Israel’s multi-layered defense array.
The Arrow (Arrow-2 and Arrow-3) system intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and the David’s Sling missile defense system which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 -300km.
Israel continuously improves the technology behind the country’s anti-missile systems in order to expand and improve the performance capabilities of the system in the face of an unprecedented range of threats.