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Israel's missile defense draws new recruits

(Xinhua)

15:20, December 02, 2011

JERUSALEM, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli military's latest anti-missile defense systems have dramatically raised demand for service in the air force, the Israel Hayom daily reported Thursday.

A record number of fresh high school graduates enlisted in the Air Defense Corps during November, the report said.

Military service in Israel is compulsory by law and enlistment is held three times a year -- in February, August and November. Representatives of the various service branches vie to receive the best and brightest recruits, with the infantry and Special Forces traditionally topping the popularity chart.

But Iron Dome, a cutting edge system for intercepting short- range rockets, is changing that. Military officials said Wednesday that the prospect of operating the system, which successfully shot down a salvo of rockets fired by Gaza militants earlier this year, is luring a growing number of young conscripts to join the Air Defense Corps.

Some of November's recruits are slated to train in operating " Magic Wand," a system intended to deal with intermediate-range missiles that Israel is developing in conjunction with U.S. defense giant Raytheon. The Air Force estimates that the system, which is still in the experimental phase, will become operational in 2013.

The military is also engaged in intensive preparations for the future deployment of Arrow III, a strategic system being developed to intercept ballistic missiles high above the Earth.

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