Israel's new "Terra" radar system, unveiled on Sunday, is designed to identify every enemy missile, satellite or aircraft from a distance of thousands of kilometers.
The system consists of two different types of radar that complement each other: The first is the short-range "Ultra" radar that can provide the first identification of a launched missile or aircraft and begin to track it while gathering statistics on its intended destination.
The "Spectra" radar then joins in and operates at a higher resolution while collecting precise data on the missile: Type, weight, flight speed, estimated target and information on when it will leave the atmosphere.
The two "Terra" radars provide a combined range of 320 degrees and they can operate alongside one another or far apart. This is because the "Spectra" radar, the smaller of the two, can be assembled and operated portably, on a missile ship.
The cost of the system comes in at hundreds of millions of dollars. The smaller radar, the "Spectra," weighs 130 tons and is 15 meters wide and nine meters tall. The "Ultra" weighs 280 tons and is 30 meters wide and 10 meters tall. Both are bigger than the American Aegis radar.
The system was designed by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and its daughter company Aelta, where most radar systems in Israel are designed. It is not currently sold in Israel but has already been in use for nearly two years by foreign armies.
The development took three years, an international record for the amount of time taken to develop such a system. Four hundred people worked on the development, including engineers and technicians in IAI factories across Israel.
"Middle Eastern countries already had fast ballistic missiles ten years ago, which have since been improved, and today are high-energy and can reach targets on average two or three times faster," a senior source at IAI explained.
"The system is capable of identifying and gathering reliable data on a large number of different targets at the same time – long-range missiles, satellites in space and different kinds of aircraft, including drones."
Each of the two radars in the system, which is shortly due to be sent to another overseas customer, is comprised of hundreds of small radars that together can connect to other tracking systems, thereby giving a complete picture of the sky.
Additionally, "Terra" can connect with every interception system in Israel - although it has been designed with a third protective function, that currently guards the Arrow 2 system.