Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IDF to increase production of Arrow missile interceptors



By YAAKOV KATZ

The Defense Ministry plans to significantly increase production of Arrow missile interceptors, capable of intercepting incoming Iranian and Syrian Shihab and Scud missiles, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday.

"We will need to expand our arsenal of Arrow interceptors," Barak said at the International Aerospace Conference near Ben-Gurion Airport.

A top defense official told The Jerusalem Post that Iran is believed to have dozens of operational Shihab ballistic missiles that are capable of reaching Israel. The Israel Air Force says it requires at least double that number of interceptors.

Arrow interceptors are made jointly by Israel Aerospace Industries and by Boeing Co. in Alabama.

The air force is also in the process of upgrading its older Arrow interceptors to the new Arrow 2 missile, which has enhanced avionics and boost systems enabling greater range and altitude.

According to IAF Air Defense chief Brig.-Gen. Doron Gavish, the Iron Dome missile defense system, for use against short-range Kassam and Katyusha rockets, will be deployed along the Gaza border in the middle of 2010.

During the recent Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise with the United States, Gavish said that the militaries also ran simulations that tested the Iron Dome as well as the David's Sling, which is being developed to intercept medium-range rockets.

In January, the Air Defense Division will hold a seminar to review multi-year plans as well as to consider a new name. "We are no longer just about defending Israel against incoming aircraft," said an officer in the unit. "Most of what we do today is with regard to missile defense."

The navy, the Post also learned, is considering installing Arrow missile launchers on the new missile ships it plans to purchase from Germany. When the Arrow was first developed in the 1990s, some of the initial test launches were done from a cargo ship in the Mediterranean Sea.

"If the Arrow is on a ship we would be able to possibly intercept ballistic missiles farther from Israel and closer to the launch," one official said, adding that the concept would be modeled after the US Navy's Aegis missile ships, some of which participated in the recent Juniper Cobra exercise.

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