Rafael Works 24/7 To Meet Demand for Iron Dome Missiles
Nov. 18, 2012 - 12:02PM By BARBARA OPALL-ROME Defense News
[IMRA: The fifth battery has already intercepted a number of rockets
threatening Tel Aviv]
TEL AVIV — Israel’s Rafael initiated emergency, round-the-clock operations
last week to meet intensifying demand for Iron Dome intercepting missiles
and the accelerated deployment of a fifth battery to defend against
Gaza-launched rockets and missiles.
The state-owned company added a nighttime shift Nov. 14 as Israel’s four
operational Iron Dome batteries scored more than 100 intercepts in battles
against persistent barrage attacks. In parallel, engineers and program
officials were working with Israel’s Ministry of Defense to conclude the
development of the newest Block-2 upgrades scheduled for a fifth battery
slated for deployment over the weekend.
“We’re working three shifts and weekends to respond to MoD’s request to
speed additional capabilities into the battle,” a company executive here
He credited a special U.S. appropriation of $205 million for enabling the
accelerated push to deploy additional interceptors and the newest Block-2
version of the Iron Dome intercepting system.
“Without a doubt, if it wasn’t for the U.S. $205 million, we would be facing
a serious operational deficiency in our inventories,” he said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the latest Block-2 Iron Dome battery to
be delivered to operational units of Israel’s Air Defense Forces by the
evening of Nov. 17, two months ahead of schedule.
“The fifth battery that is currently in development has displayed impressive
capabilities in a series of advanced tests that have taken place during
recent weeks. However, following recent events, MoD decided to take the
battery out of the test-firing arena and move it over to the operational
arena,” MoD announced Nov. 16.
Defense and industry sources said the Block-2 Iron Dome battery draws on
lessons gained since its operational deployment in spring 2011. The upgraded
battery has the same hardware as the previous four batteries, but software
changes and operational tweaking expand its coverage area and help it defend
against increasingly challenging salvo attacks.
“There’s still a lot of potential for improved capabilities,” an industry
executive said. “What we’ve done in Block-2 is expand the operational
envelope. But like an iceberg, there’s still huge capabilities under the
surface that remain to be seen.”
In nearly a week of cross-border escalation, Israeli airstrikes took out
more than 450 targets throughout the Hamas-controlled strip, while militants
south of the border launched more than 300 rockets and missiles, some of
which reached the outskirts of Tel Aviv.