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Israel to Deploy Hi-Tech Anti-Rocket System

  • Robert Berger

Israel's new anti-rocket system, called the Iron Dome, has passed final tests and will be deployed near the country's borders by November. The system was produced by the state-owned Rafael Arms Development Authority and is partially financed by the United States.

The Iron Dome will help neutralize the rocket threat from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The two Islamic militant groups have bombarded Israel with rockets in the past, exposing a strategic vulnerability.

The system uses small radar-guided missiles to blow up incoming rockets with ranges of between five and 70 kilometers. It can also destroy mortar shells in mid-air.

"It will change the equation," said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "It will hit so much of these small-caliber rockets and 'misslets,' that it will change the equation for the other side."

The other benefit is deterrence.

"It will save time of fighting and will deter in many cases a potential enemy from really launching an attack," said Barak.

Defense officials warn that the system will not completely eliminate the rocket threat from Lebanon and Gaza. But they say it will sharply reduce the number of rockets able to hit populated areas and strategic facilities.

One drawback is the cost. An interceptor missile costs $50,000, compared to just $500 for a Palestinian rocket.