Defense Officials: Forget lasers, we're sticking with Iron Dome

Defense delegation to the US not impressed by the Skyguard.

kassam incredible 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
kassam incredible 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Defense Ministry stands behind its decision to develop the Iron Dome missile defense system and appears to not plan to purchase the Skyguard laser system under development by Northrop Grumman in the United States, senior defense officials said Thursday. On Thursday night, Defense Ministry Dir.-Gen. Pinchas Buhris returned to Israel from a five-day trip to the US, during which he was in Washington, D.C. for talks at the Pentagon and paid a visit to White Sands, New Mexico to see the Nautilus laser system deployed there and be briefed on its upgraded version, Skyguard. Defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that, while a final decision had yet to be made, the defense delegation to the US was not impressed by the Skyguard and walked away convinced that it had made the correct decision when choosing Rafael's Iron Dome last year as Israel's anti-Kassam defense system. In White Sands, Buhris watched a test of the system which included the firing of 36 rockets, eight of which were intercepted. Defense officials said that this was further proof that the system was not feasible. Buhris was accompanied on his visit to White Sands by Dr. Yaakov Nagel, deputy chief scientist in MAFAT- the Defense Ministry's Research and Development Authority - and the chairman of the 30-man committee that chose the Iron Dome. During his trip, Buhris also met with Pentagon officials to discuss the possibility that Israel will receive the F-22 fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, which until now has been banned for sale outside the US. Buhris was also expected to sign a bilateral agreement with the Pentagon that would allow the Israel Air Force to receive the complete designs of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), also known as the F-35, the stealth fighter jet that Israel is scheduled to begin receiving in 2013. The agreement was supposed to regulate the way the information is transferred to Israel as well as the IAF's obligations when it comes to safeguarding the information, which is deemed critical for the IDF when choosing which JSF configuration it will choose to procure.