Minister of Defense Ehud Barak today announced that he will seek to have the further development of missile interceptor systems declared a national emergency project, following the success of the Iron Dome in intercepting rockets and missiles fired against Israeli cities from Gaza. Iron Dome has intercepted 40 incoming short-range rockets and missiles in the past two days, an unprecedented success, following an upgrade to the system in recent weeks by the Israel Air Force's defense network and the system's manufacturer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
Three Iron Dome batteries have been deployed to protect Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Beersheva. The batteries have repeatedly intercepted incoming missiles targeting the cities. In light of the encouraging figures, Barak today said that development of other interceptor systems, including the Magic Wand, which is designed to intercept intermediate range missiles, should be accelerated. "Iron Dome's great success in intercepting rockets fired against Israeli cities in the past two contributes to the security of Israel's people, and gives defense the freedom of decision," he said at a Ministry of Defense meeting.
The Iron Dome's success comes a few weeks after the Ministry of Defense threatened to suspend procurement of the system, due to budget cuts. Ministry officials said that the high cost Iron Dome batteries meant that it could not afford to buy enough interceptor missiles. It estimates the cost of each battery at $50 million, and the cost of each Tamir missile at $70,000-100,000.
Under the Ministry of Defense plan, the Air Force is due to have six Iron Dome batteries deployed in 2013, after the US promised aid money for this program. The ministry estimates that 13 batteries are needed to provide reasonable nationwide defense.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 11, 2012
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