Israel Completes Testing Rocket Defense System

Israel has successfully completed testing a high-tech rocket defense system designed to protect its civilians from attacks by militants in Gaza and Lebanon, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

The Iron Dome system successfully "intercepted multiple threats at the same time," the ministry said in a statement. "All the (rockets) were shot down by the system with total success."

It said the system will be delivered to an anti-aircraft regiment in the air force soon, but did not give a date for when it becomes operational. Channel 10 TV said the first battery would be deployed in May.

The system is effective against short-range rockets like those used by Gaza and Lebanese militants.

The Iron Dome system uses cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and shoot them down within seconds of their launch, according to the Defense Ministry. The system can change its calculations to account for weather or other conditions in fractions of a second. It then fires a hailstorm of projectiles that home in on the rockets, detonating them in the sky.

Gaza militants have fired thousands of rockets into southern Israel over the years and the Iran-backed militia Hezbollah bombed northern cities with rocket barrages from Lebanon during fierce fighting in the summer of 2006.
Millions of Israeli civilians are within range of the Hamas and Hezbollah rockets, and the Israeli military have been unable to stop the attacks up to now.

Israel has been looking at anti-rocket systems since 2003 but intensified the search after the 2006 war.
Developed at a cost of more than $200 million, the Iron Dome system is intended to eventually be integrated into a multilayered defense umbrella to meet all missile threats.

To defend against long-range threats, like an Iranian attack, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and Chicago-based Boeing Co. are producing the Arrow missile, which has been successfully tested and deployed.
The most advanced version, the Arrow II, was specifically designed to counter Iran's Shahab ballistic missile, which may be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The Shahab-3 is said to have a range of up to 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers), putting Israel well within striking distance.

Israel views Iran as its biggest threat because of its nuclear program and long-range missiles. Those fears have deepened by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated references to the destruction of the Jewish state.


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