Now Israel Has The Most Advanced Missile Defense System In The World

March 6, 2016

The massive ‘Juniper Cobra 2016’ exercise, a US-Israel air defense drill, concluded 3rd March 2016. The drill ended just two days after Israel’s Defense Ministry announced it would be enhancing the capabilities of David’s Sling, a system designed to handle Iranian-grade missiles. The drill is the first of its kind to include David’s Sling, which is expected to come fully online during 2016, and also the first such drill involving six different air defense systems: The US linked its Aegis, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), and Patriot systems with Israeli Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and the Iron Dome in a single simulation, for the bi-annual drill, the IAF source said.


Juniper Cobra is the eighth in a series of biennial exercises between the two militaries dating back to 2001, and is an important part of the training of both the US EUCOM and the IDF. A five-day combined military exercise of Israel and the United States, it is built to provide training in case of a ballistic missile attack from Iran. Sources: IHS Jane’s , Jerusalem Post and IDF

In December 2015, Israel and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency celebrated successful tests of two new ballistic missile defense systems — David’s Sling, which is designed to intercept short- and medium-range threats, and ­Arrow-3, which is intended to stop long-range attacks and knock out enemy targets in space by deploying “kamikaze satellites,” or “kill vehicles,” that track their targets. David’s Sling and Arrow-3 will join Iron Dome and the existing Arrow-2 in coming months.


David’s Sling

David’s Sling is considered the most innovative and revolutionary among interceptor systems in the world. This system, which will be a part of a multi-layered defense system being developed by the Missile Defense Directorate in collaboration with the Air Force, would allow Israel to deal more effectively with a wide range of current and future threats to its safety. The system is designed primarily to handle the kinds of rockets and missiles, built by Iran and Russia, that are now in the possession of the Hizbollah militia in Lebanon and the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Beyond the threat posed by the splintering of Syria, Israel is worried that Syrian missiles could be transferred to Hezbollah or acquired by the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. In a recent speech, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah threatened that his militia’s missiles could strike ammonia storage tanks in Israel’s Haifa port in a future showdown with Israel, warning that the damage would be equivalent to an atomic bomb and could kill 800,000 people.

The delivery process is gradual, according to David’s Sling development plan, and is expected to go on for a few weeks. In the first phase, the project’s managers began delivering the interception, command and control, and radar systems. The IAF will now start testing the performance of all of the system’s components, following which the system will be declared operational.

Israel missile defence By Ari Rusila figure



Israel’s Multilayered Missile Defences

The Israeli defense establishment and its American partners have designed a layered system that will allow the Jewish state to respond to simultaneous attacks from multiple fronts — the relatively crude homemade rockets lobbed by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, the midrange rockets and missiles fired by the Shiite militants of Hezbollah from Lebanon, and the long-range ballistic missiles being developed by Iran that could carry conventional or chemical warheads.

iron-domeThe multi-platform system includes the Iron Dome, which stops low-accuracy rockets like those fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip or from the Sinai e.g. by ISIS-Sinai Province (aka former ‘Ansar Bait al-Maqdis’ – ABM) . Recently more Iron Dome batteries have been upgraded. The system’s interception range has been significantly extended over the past two years.

David’s Sling is designed to bridge the lower and upper tiers of Israel’s four-layer active defence network. It will be deployed above Israel’s Iron Dome and below the upper-atmospheric Arrow-2 and exo-atmospheric Arrow-3. It is to be particularly useful in defending against the vast and increasingly precise arsenal of Syrian 302mm rockets and Iranian half-ton warhead-equipped Fatah 110 rockets in the hands of Lebanon-based Hizbollah. It also is designed to defend against Scud B-class ballistic missiles, which can deliver one-ton warheads at ranges of some 300 kilometers.


The successful Arrow 3 interception test carried out in December 2015 has brought forward the system’s initial operating capability date, which is now expected before the end of 2016. The operationalisation of Arrow 3, which is designed to intercept ballistic missiles when they are still outside the Earth’s atmosphere, will complete Israel’s multilayered missile defences.

Additionally, Israel’s new X-Band radar system will allow it to detect incoming missiles from up to 600 miles out, compared to its current radar tracking capability of 100 miles. The system can also calculate the trajectories of rockets and missiles, stopping the incoming projectiles if they are intended for cities, military bases, or important infrastructure, while holding its fire if the incoming projectiles end up landing in unpopulated areas.

“I define the system as pioneering,” Uzi Rubin, the former director of Israel’s missile defence program, told the Post. “Even the United States doesn’t have anything as complex, as sophisticated.” The system will also be able to prioritize incoming rockets and missiles by calculating their trajectories. Some missiles may not be intercepted, if their targets are fields and farms, but projectiles that would hit populated areas or important infrastructure — such as military bases, oil refineries and nuclear facilities — would be stopped.


However Israel’s military leaders warn civilians that no air defense ­system is perfect — or even close to it. “There is no hermetic defense or total security that will intercept everything fired at Israel. In the next real war, rockets will fall on the State of Israel,” said Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, commander of the Israeli air force’s Aerial Defense Division. Source: The Washington Post


The outcome: Qualitative military edge (QME)

When it is complete, Israel’s multibillion-dollar rocket and missile air defense system will be far superior to anything in the Middle East and will likely rival, and in some ways surpass, in speed and targeting, air defenses deployed by Europe and the United States, its developers say. The United States has provided more than $3.3 billion over the past 10 years to support the defensive system, which will be able to knock down not only ballistic missiles but also orbiting satellites. The Israeli missile defense system is being built in partnership with U.S. defense contractors, including Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Almost all current US aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance. U.S. military aid has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world. U.S. military aid for Israel has been designed to maintain Israel’s “qualitative military edge” (QME) over neighboring militaries. The rationale for QME is that Israel must rely on better equipment and training to compensate for being much smaller geographically and in terms of population than its potential adversaries. U.S. military aid, a portion of which may be spent on procurement from Israeli defense companies, also has helped Israel build a domestic defence industry, which ranks as one of the top 10 suppliers of arms worldwide.

Why Israel’s new defense system is one of the most advanced in the world:





Will Iron Dome balance the Hamas Terror?

April 5, 2011

An additional battery of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system was deployed on 4th April 2011 in southern Israel. The battery, operated by commanders and soldiers of the IAF’s aerial defense network, will be deployed in as part of efforts to protect residents of the Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod against rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. This is the second Iron Dome battery deployed in southern Israel over the past few weeks. The first battery was deployed in the Be’er Sheba region the week of March 27th. (Source IDF )

Civilian areas in southern Israel were heavily shelled by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza during last weeks. Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, claimed responsibility most part of them.

Today, there are over 950,000 Israelis living within range of rocket, mortar and Grad (more advanced version of standard Qassam) attacks, with the highest population in Be’er Sheva, where approximately 531,000 civilians have 60 seconds to find shelter in case of an attack. Since Hamas’ takeover in the Gaza Strip, rocket fire at Israel had risen exponentially, peaking in the period right before Operation Cast Lead with 3,278 rockets fired at Israel in 2008, and steeply decreasing since the end of the Operation in 2009.

If hostilities erupt, many of the projectiles that are likely to be fired at Israel will be short-range Katyusha and Grad rockets that have been used extensively by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. These are the rockets that Iron Dome is designed to counter. During Hezbollah’s 34-day war with Israel in 2006, the Iranian-backed movement unleashed nearly 4,000 rockets against Israel, which had no defenses against such weapons. But now, the Israelis claim, Hezbollah possesses some 45,000 rockets and missiles, including weapons that can hit Tel Aviv.

On March 2011, the Israeli Navy intercepted 50 tons of sophisticated weapons concealed in civilian cargo containers aboard the “Victoria”, which left Syria and was en route to Alexandria, Egypt. Of the 50 tons, the most strategically significant weapons found were 6 C-704 missiles.

Currently, there are no known C-704s held by Hamas or any other terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip. With a range of 35 kilometers, this anti-ship missile would have been used to threaten IDF and civilian activity off Israel’s southern coast, as well as natural gas resources vital to the livelihoods of Israeli citizens.

On December 2010 U.S. allocated $250 million dollars toward funding Israel’s advanced anti-rocket system, the Iron Dome. The funds are in addition to the more than $200 million allocated for the Arrow and David’s Sling, joint U.S.-Israel anti-missile systems.

Iron Dome

The “Iron Dome” system, a significant achievement of the defense industries in Israel, is currently in an accelerated process of assimilation in the IAF and on the way to becoming fully operational. The system is currently in an evaluation stage on an operational level. “Iron Dome” will provide part of the answer to the threat of rocket fire at Israel’s southern communities, not discounting shelters and offensive measures. The decision to accelerate the deployment of the system was made in light of recent events in southern Israel and according to security assessments. The deployment will not be permanent, allowing the systems to be moved between areas according to evolving security assessments.

The Iron Dome is an effective and innovative mobile defense solution for countering short range rockets and 155 mm artillery shell threats with ranges of up to 70 km in all weather conditions, including low clouds, rain, dust storms or fog. (Source: Rafael Defense Systems)

Iron Dome gives only limited security. The flight time of a Qassam rocket to Sderot (a southern town constantly hit by Hamas rockets) is 14 seconds, while the time the Iron Dome needs to identify a target and fire is something like 15 seconds and the average flight time of the intercept missile to the point of encounter is another 15 seconds. To intercept a rocket using Iron Dome requires at least 30 seconds. This is the time it takes a Qassam to cover six kilometers. So Iron Dome can’t defend against anything fired from fewer than 5 kilometers and some critics says it probably wouldn’t defend against anything fired from 15 kilometers either, i.e. it would not be able to cover and protect all settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip.

The economic aspect is also significant as the cost of each Iron Dome intercept missile will be according Rafael about USD 40,000 and some experts are estimating it be as high as USD 100,000. In contrast, the cost of making a Qassam rocket is only a tiny fraction (USD 10-20/each) of those figures with Iron Dome.

Iron Dome vs Nautilus

As an alternative to Iron Dome there was – and in some degree still is – a proposal to bring into Israel the laser-based Nautilus/Skyguard defense system, whose development is nearly complete and whose effectiveness was proved in a series of tests (100 percent success in 46 tests, including success in intercepting mortar shells). Nautilus was developed in the United States in conjunction with Israel, but the Israeli defense establishment ended its participation in the project in 2001. The Americans went on with it, improved the system and changed its name to Skyguard. Northrop Grumman, the company that is developing the missile, promises that it can be delivered within 18 months at a relatively low cost. The Nautilus system itself, devised to protect Kiryat Shmona against Katyusha rockets, can be installed in Sderot within six months.

The major advantage of Skyguard is its use of a laser beam for interceptions. The beam travels at the speed of light, allowing the system to intercept short-range rockets like the ones aimed at Sderot. The cost of implementing the laser system is also far lower than Iron Dome. The cost of launching one laser beam will be between $1,000 and $2,000. The Defense Ministry of Israel however was more interested for developing blue-and-white (Made in Israel) systems, so Iron Dome was the selection.

Other stratospheres

Qassam rockets are simple home-made cheap weapons with practically non-existent military thread; their physical menace to civil population is minimal, the main effect is psychological. Anyway Iron Dome, when it is deployed, will constitute the bottom ring of a multi-layered anti-missile shield and the other levels are focusing to real dangers.

The David’s Sling system being developed by Rafael and the U.S. Raytheon Co. will cover the middle tier countering rockets with a range of 150-250 miles, primarily the Iranian-made Zelzal and Fajr rockets and Syria’s M600 weapons, all believed to be in Hezbollah’s possession. David’s Sling is also sometimes referred to as “Magic Wand” and is essentially designed to fill a gap between the Iron Dome system for short-range missiles, such as the Qassam, and the Arrow for long-range missiles such as the Iraqi Scud and the Iranian Shihab. On January 2011 The IDF’s “Magic Wand” (Sharvit Kesamim) system for intercepting intermediate-range rockets was successfully tested.

Ballistic missiles, such as Iran’s Shehab-3 and Sejjil-2 systems, will be countered by the long-range, high-altitude Arrow-2 system developed by Israel and the United States and soon with Arrow III upgrade, which will shoot down missiles outside Earth’s atmosphere through a booster-rigged satellite.

In general, the Israeli Arrow is a more advanced weapon than the Patriot and possesses far more range, undertaking high altitude interceptions and covering a wide area (est. 90km/ 54 mile range, maximum altitude 30 miles/ 50 km for Arrow 2) as a Theater Missile Defense (TMD) system. Unlike the USA’s THAAD, PAC-3, or SM-3 which all use “hit to kill” technology, Israel’s Arrow relies on a directed fragmentation warhead to destroy enemy missiles. The exoatmospheric, 2-stage Arrow-3 will use pivoting optical sensors and its own upper-stage kick motor, instead of separate control rockets for final steering. The goal is a highly maneuverable missile that can reach more than double the height of existing Arrow-2 interceptors, using a lower-weight missile. This will also have the effect of extending the missile’s range. Arrow III is expected to be ready by 2014 or 2015. One of the Arrow III’s advantages is that its destroying a nuclear missile would not rain down toxic radioactive debris. All such fallout would burn up as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. (Source Defense Industry Daily )

Israel gives Iran until 2015 to develop nuclear weapons. At least, Israel plans to have its multi-layered missile defense shield up by then, in anticipation that in five years Iran may still be ruled by those who want to wipe Israel off the map. In the meanwhile, Iran is bent on strengthening its own air defense. The Iranian government operates in fear that Israel may use preemptive strikes to nip its nuclear aspirations in the bud.

Israel has stated that it intends to use nuclear weapons to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons. “Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout. “As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources. “(Source Timesonline )

Balance of Terror?

For years Hamas has had offensive intentions against Israel while its offensive capabilities have improved. In addition to its geographical proximity these qualities cover main part of classical balance of threat theory criteria and according this Israel’s answer are more sophisticated defense systems.

Speaking about justification related Qassam attacs by Hamas and Israel’s response to them, Richard Goldstone, writer of the Goldstone Report, gives interesting view in his Washington Post op-ed on 1st April 2011. Now Goldstone admitted that according today’s knowledge his report would have been a different document, especially its allegations of “possible war crimes” directed at Israel. Now Goldstone concludes that while Hamas clearly indiscriminately targeted civilians, subsequent Israeli investigations indicated that civilians “were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy” by Israel. “I have always been clear that Israel, like any other sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within,” he wrote. Noting that Hamas continues to target southern Israel’s civilian population, he added, “that comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality.”

From my point of view characteristic to Israeli-Palestine conflict is that the attacks of Hamas are made mostly against Israeli civil population while the Israeli counter attacks are targetted against militants with regrettable collaterial damages with Palestine civil population. Also attacks of Hamas are for conquering region inhabited by Jews, while Israel tries to protect their population in their country. The developing Israeli missile system is also made mainly for defense not for attack.

While armament continues the main focus of activities will remain in military options and weapons will also have a bigger role in local societies. Peaceful solutions naturally would be wiser both economically as well ethically. So far peace process has been never-ending undertaking with dead road maps and kept alive only by outside international efforts. If local stakeholders sometimes find motivation for deal some progress may be achieved.

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