The Iron Dome anti-rocket shield passed a critical test in the past 48 hours, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday evening, in a message that will be welcomed by residents of the rocket-battered western Negev. During the test, a number of rockets were launched, "of the same type that were fired in recent years at Israel," and the Iron Dome system responded "accordingly," the Defense Ministry said, using terminology indicating a successful interception of the projectiles. The Iron Dome system is slated to defend southern and northern Israel from Hamas and Hizbullah rockets, and be a key component in a multi-layered missile defense system that includes the Arrow anti-ballistic missile shield. Iron Dome is being developed by the Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and the Technological Industry (Maf'at) in conjunction with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Sources in the ministry expressed satisfaction with the test, describing it as a "milestone" and adding that the trial had verified simulations and research work. Pinchas Buchris, director-general of the Defense Ministry, congratulated Iron Dome engineers on the successful test, and said that accelerated work would enable its installation in the near future. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the development of a multi-layered missile defense system was a "national mission aimed at reaching the stage in which a clear majority of missiles do not reach their targets." Earlier this month, Danny Gold, head of Research and Development at Maf'at, said work on the Iron Dome had reached its "final stage" and was running "ahead of schedule." "This system can be developed in a fifth of the time it would take to develop other systems, and at a tenth of the cost," Gold said. "It is the cheapest system in the world."