The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is set to equip its Iron Dome counter rocket defence systems with an advanced variant of Tamir interceptor missile, as part of the system's Block II version upgrade programme.
Under the proposed plans, the Iron Dome batteries stationed across the nation will operate both the new and currently used interceptor missiles, to provide improved defence against a wide range of incoming missile and rocket threats.
An undisclosed Israeli Air Defence Formation Commander said the existing variant of the Tamir missile is extremely advanced, but the new version will upgrade the system as a whole.
''The main difference between the two models of the missile is the warhead, where the system that makes the missile smart is located,'' the commander added.
Implementation of the new Tamir missile on Iron Dome will soon be followed by integration of additional missiles, to enable more manoeuvring techniques and enhance the system's operational capabilities under varied conditions and in different areas.
Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, 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.
Capable of handling multiple threats simultaneously, the system features a tracking radar, a battle management and weapons control unit and a missile firing unit, equipped with interceptors to trace threats that are launched from a distance of 4km to 70km.
Israel has to date deployed four Iron Dome batteries along its borders, of which two are operational at Ashkelon and Be'er Sheva, and have reportedly intercepted rockets fired from Gaza in March and April 2011, respectively.
The IAF is also expected to take the delivery of an additional nine batteries in the next two years for deployment along its northern and southern borders.
Image: An Israeli Air Force's Iron Dome battery stationed in Ashkelon. Photo: courtesy of Israel Defense Forces.