Israel slates 1 bln USD for Iron Dome rocket interceptors (2)

08:12, May 10, 2011      

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Israeli soldiers walk near the Iron Dome rocket shield system in a field in the southern city of Ashkelon April 9, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

"We need to adjust expectations in relation to Iron Dome, both in regard to the citizens and vis-a-vis the political leadership," Shani told Ha'aretz.

Although the system's deployment prior to the deadline originally envisioned by its developers was a "significant achievement," he said, it does not purport to guarantee a 100- percent success rate.

"It is not a system that can ensure the interception of every rocket in every situation. These batteries, when they are deployed, will limit the number of casualties from rockets and will provide, in case of war, decision-making space," according to Shani.

Iron Dome is part of Israel's missile-defense concept, known as MTAD, or multi-tier active air defense, a network which aims to provide a comprehensive shield against a multitude of threats on several fronts.

Topping MTAD is Arrow III, a system designed to collide with incoming long-range ballistic missiles beyond Earth's atmosphere, and David's Sling, a joint project of Rafael and U.S. missile giant Raytheon built to deal with medium-range projectiles.

Shani said another 1 billion U.S. dollars are earmarked for the development of David's Sling, which is expected to achieve initial operational capabilities in 2012.

Israel's defense establishment is searching for ways to finance these aspirations. In April, the U.S. Congress approved 205 million dollars in special funding for Iron Dome, following months of bureaucratic haggling on the Capitol Hill. The money will finance the purchase of four additional batteries for the IAF.

Israel has high hopes of exporting the systems in the coming years. According to Shani, five countries have already expressed interest in Iron Dome, while negotiations are also being held for the sale of David's Sling.

"Our intention is to close procurement contracts within a few months. Traditionally, you first wait for the completion of development, but we now need to accelerate this process," he said.

Addressing reported delays in the delivery date of the U.S.- made F-35 stealth fighters to the IAF, with the first of the 20 aircrafts ordered by Israel expected to arrive in 2018, Shani said delay "may actually serve our interests" by enabling more time for the jets to be fitted "with as many Israeli-made systems as possible."

An idea recently floated by defense officials to bolster the IAF with another F-15 squadron until the F-35s are delivered has been shelved, he said.

Source: Xinhua

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