The defense establishment is set to present an impressive plan in the coming days, the aim of which is to render Israel the most defensible country in the world from the threat of rockets and ballistic missiles.
The National Emergency Plan includes the development and production of the world's most advanced missile defense systems at the expense of NIS 7-8 billion ($2-2.3 billion).
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These funds will not just come out of the defense budget – the state has already earmarked millions of dollars for the plan, which it hopes will be in place by 2015, around the time Iran is scheduled to be capable of producing a nuclear warhead.
The US has also granted Israel funds for the endeavor, some of which will come out of the budget allotted for the purchase of F-35 stealth jets, whose production has fallen behind.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak mentioned the plan during a visit to Paris several weeks ago. He spoke of "a national emergency plan that will significantly alter the defense of the home front and the state's citizens".
The plan is comprised of four levels protecting against ballistic missiles and long-range as well as short-range rockets.
The first level of defense is based on Arrow 3, which will intercept long-range missiles such as the Shihab 3 outside the atmosphere. The system is scheduled to undergo a test run in the beginning of 2012 and, if all goes well, to be fully functional by 2015.
Arrow 3 missiles will be fired from already existing Arrow batteries, currently stationed throughout Israel, according to the plan.
The second level of defense is based on Arrow 2, which targets missiles that have already entered the atmosphere.
Iron Dome: 11 more batteries planned (Photo: Reuters)
The third and main level of defense is intended to handle artillery and long-range rockets such as the Syrian M-600 and the Fajr, as well as cruise missiles.
According to the plan, these will be intercepted by Magic Wand, another project supported by Uncle Sam. The system has encountered various problems and delays recently, but its developers hope it will be in place by 2015.
The fourth level – aimed at intercepting short-range rockets – is handled by Iron Dome, the defense establishment's newest fully functional system and one that has already intercepted rockets on various occasions.
The US recently earmarked $205 million for the continuing distribution of the system and its further development. The plan maps out 13 Iron Dome batteries throughout the country, up from the two currently in existence.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has invited Barak to the Pentagon to discuss the mutual armament against ballistic and nuclear threats in the Middle East.
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