US mulling purchase of Israeli anti-rocket system
Updated: 2011-11-11 10:07
JERUSALEM - The US military is weighing a possible purchase of Iron Dome, an Israeli anti-rocket defense system, the Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.
US Army officials have expressed interest in deploying the system outside the front-line bases in Iraq and Afghanistan as another means of defending them against the growing threat of Katyusha rocket attacks by insurgents.
South Korea is also considering a purchase.
Rafael Advances Systems Ltd, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, jointly developed the defense system with US engineers.
According to the report, the system is compatible with the US Army's Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) system in providing a layered defense for military bases.
Iron Dome is designed to intercept medium-range rockets at distances ranging from 4 to 70 km, and each battery comprises 20 Tamir interceptors and one state-of-the-art radar that calculates the trajectory of a hostile projectile in split seconds. Each interceptor is estimated to cost $50,000.
The Israel Air Force (IAF) has deployed three batteries and moves them around the country according to changing operational needs.
In late March, the system underwent its first combat trial, successfully shooting down a salvo of nine rockets fired by Gaza- based militants from the cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon.
It was tested again in October and intercepted three rockets fired by Islamic Jihad militants in the latest flare-up of violence along the Israel-Gaza border.
The system's performance under real battle conditions prompted calls from within the IAF for speedy procurement of more batteries.
Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently announced that the IAF would receive another six batteries by the end of 2012. The US Congress earlier this year approved $205 million in special funding to Israel for that purpose.