IAF completes establishment of new battalion that will operate the short-range missile defense system.
By YAAKOV KATZ
The IDF moved one step closer to receiving the Iron Dome last week after the Israeli Air Force completed the establishment of the new battalion that will operate the short-range missile defense system.
Last month, the Iron Dome successfully intercepted a number of rockets that mimicked Kassam and short-range Grad-model Katyusha rockets in a series of tests conducted by the Defense Ministry.
The Iron Dome, under development by Rafael Defense Systems, will become operational in the middle of 2010 and will be capable of intercepting short-range Kassam and Katyusha rockets fired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, air force officers said on Sunday.
The Iron Dome uses an advanced radar that locates and tracks the rocket that is then intercepted by a kinetic missile interceptor. The first battery that will be deployed along the Gaza border will consist of four launchers, each of which has 20 missiles.
The new battalion is part of the IAF's Air Defense Division. Its commander is Lt.-Col. Shabtai Ben-Boher, who until recently served as commander of a Patriot Missile Battalion. The IAF already operates the Arrow missile system to counter long-range ballistic missiles and Rafael is co-developing David's Sling to counter medium-range rockets in Hizbullah and Syrian hands.
Officers from the battalion have already commenced training with the systems as well as formulating a doctrine for its operation. The soldiers that will join the battalion were chosen from existing Air Defense Division units. The training is being conducted with computer simulators and is currently focusing on the Iron Dome's command-and-control systems, the new radar system and the missile launcher.
"We cannot promise 100 percent hermetic defense," said Col. Zvika, commander of the IAF's Northern Air Defense Division. "But what we can promise is that after years of rocket fire against Gaza-belt communities, there will now be an effective solution."
The IDF has also located positions along the Gaza border that will be used as bases for the system, which includes a launcher and radar system. After it completes the deployment of the system along the Gaza border, the IDF will begin deploying the system along the border with Lebanon.
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