Israeli success and good news for the south: The Iron Dome anti-rocket system successfully passed a number of comprehensive tests during the last two days, the defense establishment says.
As a result of the system's successful performance, officials have decided to deploy the system during the second half of the year.
Personnel from the arms development department of the Defense Ministry and Rafael carried out an additional series of tests in the south, where the system had to cope, for the first time, with a number of rockets fired at the same time, including Katyusha and Qassam rockets, as well as 120 mm mortars.
Moment of impact (Photo: Defense Ministry)
All rockets fired as part of the test were intercepted successfully by the new system.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said this was a significant milestone. "The success of the tests attests to the capabilities of Rafael and Israel's defense industries," he said, and expressed his admiration for all those involved in the development of the project.
With the completion of the tests, the development stage of the system is over. According to the timetable, the system will soon be handed over to a special anti-aircraft brigade in the Air Force.
A senior Air Force officer said to Ynet that anti-aircraft training schools are preparing to receive the system with a series of training exercises designed for the troops who will operate the system. According to the plan, the first battery will be operational by summer 2010. Military personnel have already been selected, including Lieutenant-Colonel Shabtai Ben Bukher, who will head the brigade, and Captain Maor Gabriel who will take command of the first battery.
Iron Dome is designed to protect Israel from short range rockets and was developed as part of a multi-layer defense system that includes "Magic Wand" for intermediate range missiles and "Arrow" for long range missiles.
Outgoing Defense Ministry Director-General Pinhas Bukhris noted that the completion of Iron Dome will change Israel's political and security situation in the north and south.
"The security establishment is committed to defending all Israeli residents from rockets and missiles. Israeli citizens should be grateful to the project team for this remarkable achievement – an Israeli technological development that took place at an unprecedented speed," Bukhris said.