The Iron Dome rocket defense system had undergone an upgrade that will soon bolster its presence on the ground, Ynet learned Sunday.
The fifth Iron Dome
battery, which will be deployed soon, features ungraded response time and interception rage, both of which successfully graduated tests that took place last week.
The battery will become operational within several weeks. Another battery will be become operational by the summer of 2013.
Iron Dome's development has continued throughout the year, as several of its batteries became operational and were deployed in southern Israel.
The upgraded battery was also engaged in the recent joint Israel-US military exercise. Defense establishment officials said they were pleased with the test's results.
Since Iron Dome first became operational, in April 2011, the system has intercepted over 100 Grad and Qassam
rockets, fired by Gaza
terrorists at Israel's south.
"This is another outstanding achievement by all those involved in the system's upgrade," Defense Minister Ehud Barak
"The defense establishment invests huge amounts in Israel's multilayered missile defenses, which is supposed to provide protection for all of Israel in the next few years."
Iron Dome's seventh and eights batteries will be funded mostly by US aid funds in 2013. Some $70 million have already been appropriated to the project and an additional, similar, sum is due next year.
Air Force officials have said in the past that about 13 Iron Dome batteries could offer Israel optimal coverage against short-rage rocket fire.
The defense establishment is also pursuing the development of the David's Sling missile defense system, also known as "Magic Wand."
David's Sling is meant to counter mid-range missiles and armed drones and is likely to become operational by 2016.
Israel's aerial defenses include the Iron Dome and Patriot systems, as well as the Hetz 2, which counters long-range missiles. The Hetz 3 system is currently under development.
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