Defense Ministry in talks with EU states about possible sale of system.
By YAAKOV KATZ
The Defense Ministry is in talks with a number of European countries about the possible sale of the Iron Dome short-range missile defense system which the IDF plans to deploy in the coming months along the border with the Gaza Strip.In January, the Iron Dome underwent a round of tests during which it successfully intercepted barrages of Kassam and Katyusha rockets. The missile barrages that the system succeeded in intercepting included a number of rockets that mimicked Kassam and longer-range Grad-model Katyusha rockets that are known to be in Hamas’s arsenal.The Iron Dome is supposed to be capable of intercepting all of the short-range rockets fired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hizbullah in Southern Lebanon. The Iron Dome uses an advanced radar – made by Elta – that locates and tracks the rocket, which is then intercepted by a kinetic missile interceptor.Following the round of tests two months ago, a number of European countries that are currently fighting in Afghanistan, sent delegations to Israel to meet with Iron Dome manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.“Anyone fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq today is interested in this system,” one official involved in the Iron Dome project said Tuesday.In addition, officials said that it was possible that the United Stateswould help Israel fund procurement plans for the system, estimated attens of millions of dollars and at around $50,000 per interceptor. Ifapproved, the budget for the Iron Dome would likely be separate fromthe $3 billion that Israel receives in annual military aid from the US.The IDF has already established a new battalion that will be part ofthe IAF’s Air Defense Division and will operate the Iron Dome.Prototypes of the Iron Dome have already been supplied to the newbattalion which has commenced training with the system.The IDF has also located positions along the Gaza border that will beused as bases for the system, which includes a launcher and radarsystem. After it completes the deployment of the system along the Gazaborder and depending on budget constraints, the IDF will begindeploying the system along the northern border with Lebanon.
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