IDF to set up first short-range rocket battalion, say army sources (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Gili Cohen 04/03/12)
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The Israel Defense Forces is setting up a battalion for launching
rockets into populated areas. The battalion, part of the Artillery
Corps, will carry out missions that so far only the Israel Air Force
could execute, IDF sources told Haaretz.
Two weeks ago the ground forces approved in principle an Artillery
Corps plan for setting up the IDF´s first short-range rocket
battalion next year. The battalion will first fire rockets with a
range of 30 to 40 kilometers and will proceed to long-range rockets
in the coming years, military sources said.
The plan is expected to alter the IDF´s modus operandi. At present,
striking a terror organization´s headquarters, for example, requires
the air force to drop a bomb weighing between hundreds of kilograms
to a ton on it. The new rocket, designed to carry a 20-kilogram
warhead, will be launched by artillery officers.
The rocket, made by Israel Military Industries, is estimated to cost
between NIS 100,000 and NIS 200,000. With a precision of up to 10
meters of its target, it is seen as highly accurate.
However, when a rocket is fired into a built-up, densely populated
area, a 10-meter deflection can wreak destruction and kill uninvolved
people, the sources said. For this reason the IDF intends to evacuate
a targeted building before launching the rocket, in a bid to minimize
damage. Then it will reevaluate the target to ascertain whether it
contains terrorists or serves as a terror headquarters before firing
the rocket, the sources said.
"With this device, which is a sort of mini-bomb, we can control the
extent of the damage," a senior artillery officer said.
"Today we are totally dependent on the air force, as we were in
Operation Cast Lead [in Gaza, in December 2008] and the Second
Lebanon War. We want the ground forces to be autonomous in exercising
fire," he said.
Most Western armies today operate rockets to aid their ground forces.
The IDF has refrained from doing so until now due to the rockets´
imprecision, with the exception of the Artillery Corps´ multiple
launch rocket system, MLRS rockets - the corps´ cluster bombs.
The rockets´ advantage lies mainly in their range and relatively low
At first the rockets will have a GPS-based guiding system.
Later on the Artillery Corps expects to use improved rockets that
will be controlled without a GPS.
In the future the corps plans to use long-range and very-long-range
rockets that can travel up to 160 kilometers and dozens of
explosives. An artillery officer said the new rockets "will fly to
almost any range the ground forces need - and beyond."
Air force officers voiced reservations in discussions about the long-
range rockets, saying their use would overlap some of the air force´s
The Artillery Corps is planning to upgrade the accuracy of artillery
shells in the near future. In the meantime, the IDF is expected to
purchase precise artillery rockets in the coming years, an officer
said. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/03/12)
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