Israel may buy anti-Kassam system

Lockheed Martin's "Skyshield" is 80% effective in eliminating targets in tests.

Israel is negotiating for the purchase of a system to defend against Palestinian rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, Channel Two TV reported Tuesday. The Skyshield system, which was developed by US company Lockheed Martin Corp. and a Swiss firm, shoots shrapnel that knocks the target down or off-course, the TV said. Skyshield has shot down 80 percent of its targets in tests, the TV said. Israel hopes the system can help protect against homemade Palestinian rockets, which are frequently shot from the Gaza Strip. The rockets are notoriously accurate and rarely cause any damage, but have been fatal in some cases. The TV did not give the name of the Swiss company but a representative of the Zurich company Oerlikon Contraves AG said that the firm produces Skyshield. He did not know whether the company is in talks with Israel. A message left at Lockheed Martin's headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, was not immediately returned. Israel currently uses an early warning system that alerts civilians moments before the rockets land. It also is developing a laser rocket-defense system with the US, but officials say the system won't be ready until 2007 at the earliest.