According to the report, Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani has informed Rafael Advanced Defense Systems – which manufactures the rocket defense system – that at this time, the IDF will not be buying any more Iron Dome batteries.
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The military currently has three batteries and is scheduled to receive a fourth in the coming months. A fifth battery was supposed to be in place by early 2013.
The decision to suspend purchase means that the IDF will not receive its fifth and sixth Iron Dome batteries as detailed in its annual work plan. The defense establishment had originally planned to form an array of nine Iron Dome batteries.
Iron Dome in action (Photo: Shaul Golan)
Defense establishment officials have reportedly inform their US counterparts of the decision. The United States is partially funding the Iron Dome project, to the tune of $206 million.
Defense officials said that the Iron Dome's operational success, of 75%, proved pivotal in the latest round of escalation in the south, warning that the missile defense system is crucial to Israel's defense in the event of a multi-front regional conflict.
"The current budget reverts the IDF back to 2003 – the year that saw the lowest training rate ever," a military source said.
The IDF had recently canceled six Ground Forces drills. "We warned about the repercussions of cutting the defense budget and we're paying the price for those cuts."
The Knesset's Finance Committee is scheduled to debate a $1.48 billion budget increase for the defense establishment, as presented by the Treasury.
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