The IDF launched its new inland defensive weapon system Monday called the Raz Radar System.
The system, eight years in development, will enhance the IDF's ability to warn against high-trajectory weapons and will be fully operational by 2010.
"The system will be able to identify rocket fire, pinpoint it origin and accurately triangulate landing sites," Lt.-Col. Moshe Kipnis, head of the Raz project, told Ynet.
"Existing systems can identify rocket fire within a 18-30-mile range. The new system will allow us to triple that," added Chief Artillery Officer Brig.-Gen. David Savisa
Raz (Photo: IDF Spokesman's Unit)
The final operational clearance for the system was given in July, after months of rigorous testing in the Negev area. The experiments tested Raz's ability against hundreds of various rockets. The system, said Kipnis, "Lived up to all our expectations."
GOC Army Headquarters has been working on the Raz Radar since 2002, along with the Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Industry and the ALTA, an Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary.
The system, added Kipnis, was developed with more than just Gaza rocket fire on southern Israel in mind: "Gaza is not the only scenario we have been considering. There are many other, more complex scenarios."
One of Raz's most notable advantages compared to existing systems is its ability to "talk" to other systems, i.e. – communicate real-time information to the Air Force, for example, so it can mount an immediate strike on the location from which the fire emanated.
"We will also see an improvement in dealing with mortar shell fire and a substantial decrease in false alarms, although it will be impossible to avoid those altogether," said Kipnis.
The system, he added, will also be able to assist in supplying artillery fire directions, in order to minimize hitting non-target areas.
The Raz Radar will be manned by 20-man Artillery Corps teams. The teams will also be tasked with protecting the systems, should it come under attack.
The IDF is expected to deploy the new radar systems in all sectors according to operational needs.