Israeli MoD test fires upgraded Iron Dome system
The Israeli Ministry of Defence (IMOD) has successfully test-fired an upgraded version of the Iron Dome anti-rocket defence system from an undisclosed location.
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.
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.
"The Defense Ministry has invested huge sums in multi-layer missile defence system that should be able, within a few years, to protect all of Israel," Barak added.
Featuring upgraded response time and interception rage, the overall fifth new battery will now be transferred to the Israeli Air Force's (IAF) Air Defense Command for anticipated deployment in coming weeks.
A sixth Iron Dome battery is currently during the final stages of development and is expected to become operational in 2013.
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.
Equipped with a tracking radar, a battle management and weapons control unit and a missile firing unit, the system is capable of simultaneously intercepting multiple threats that are launched from a distance of 4km to 70km.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has deployed four Iron Dome batteries to date, of which two are currently operational at Ashkelon and Be'er Sheva and have reportedly intercepted Grad and Qassam rockets fired from Gaza in March and April 2011, respectively.
A total of nine batteries are expected to be deployed along Israel's northern and southern borders as part of the IDF's ambitious multi-layered defence programme to improve defence against ballistic missile threats.
Image: An Israeli Defence Force's Iron Dome battery CRAM launcher stationed near Sderot. Photo: courtesy of NatanFlayer.