November's top stories: upgraded Iron Dome system tested

Israel test fired an upgraded version of its Iron Dome missile defence system just weeks before an escalation of the conflict in Gaza. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from November 2012.


Russia originally had concerns regarding its sale of Su-35 aircraft

China to receive Su-35 fighter aircraft from Russia

Sukhoi Su-35BM

China's Ministry of National Defense has signed a preliminary agreement with Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport to acquire 24 Sukhoi Su-35BM multirole aircraft at a price of $1.5bn.

The contract, due to be signed in either 2013 or 2014, was discussed by Russian defence minister Sergey Shoygu and Chinese President Hu Jintao during a recent meeting in Beijing.

The deal comes months after a contract between the two nations for Su-35 aircraft was cancelled amid Russian claims that China had acquired and reverse engineered an Su-27SK aircraft, using it to create the Shenyang J-11B.

Designed by Sukhoi and manufactured by KNAPPO, Su-35BM is based on the Su-27 and was developed as an advanced capability air superiority fighter, to simultaneously engage multiple air targets using both guided and unguided missiles and weapon systems.

India test fires advanced air defence interceptor missile

Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD)

Scientists from India's Defence Research and Development Organisation successfully tested an air defence interceptor missile, demonstrating its endo-atmospheric interception capabilities.

During the test, the interceptor travelled at speeds of 4.5 Mach and intercepted an incoming enemy ballistic missile, represented by a modified variant of the Prithvi surface-to-surface missile.

Test firings were also expected to help evaluate the two-tier Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system's effectiveness against multiple threats in an almost operational standard, reports The Hindu.

DRDO director general, VK Saraswat, later told the newspaper that the testing successfully demonstrated the system's capability to simultaneously engage multiple targets.

US to deploy key space surveillance systems in Australia

Space Surveillance Network (SSN)

The US Government announced a deal with Australia that will see its Space Surveillance Network (SSN) system strengthened by the deployment of a C-band ground-based radar and Space Surveillance Telescope in Australia.

Scheduled to be operated from the Harold E. Holt Naval Communications Station at North West Cape in Western Australia, the C-band radar will deliver a critical dedicated sensor for the US Air Force's (USAF) SSN, which is designed to detect, track and identify space debris.

The Space Surveillance Telescope is an advanced telescope which is capable of providing a wider field of view of space objects enabling detection and tracking of smaller objects present at the deep space altitudes in geosynchronous orbits.

Australia is currently selecting a site for the SST deployment and has also agreed to share its relocation and operational costs once operational.

USAF receives final Space Fence development proposal from Lockheed

Space Fence control room

Lockheed Martin delivered its contract proposal to the US Air Force for the development of a multistatic radar system designed to enhance the USAF's ability to identify and track space debris.

The system, dubbed Space Fence, has already demonstrated its capabilities during prototype testing as part of an 18-month, $107m Space Fence prototype contract awarded to both Lockheed and Raytheon in January 2011.

Space Fence is an advanced ground-based radar designed to replace the existing USAF space surveillance system, known as VHF Fence, which was originally installed in 1961.

Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors business space surveillance systems vice president Steve Bruce said: "The original surveillance system wasn't designed to detect and track the hundreds of thousands of smaller, orbiting objects that are in space today, potentially threatening the International Space Station, future manned space flight missions and our nation's critical satellite assets."

Israeli MoD test fires upgraded Iron Dome system

Iron Dome anti-rocket defence system

Israel's Ministry of Defence successfully tested an upgraded version of the Iron Dome anti-rocket defence system, just weeks before rocket attacks from Gaza escalated amid tensions in the region.

Conducted by the IMOD's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure staff, the tests validated the system's upgraded radar that is designed to boost its performance against a wide range of unprecedented threats.

Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with significant funding support from US, the Iron Dome is a mobile air defence system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and 155mm artillery shells in all weather conditions.

Commenting on the tests, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak said the successful test firings represent a significant milestone in upgrading Iron Dome's performance and the ministry will allocate additional funding for the programme.


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September's top stories: further F-35 developments

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