Israel to make do with fewer Iron Dome interceptors (REUTERS) By Dan Williams TEL AVIV, ISRAEL 04/04/12 10:42am EDT)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - Israel is expanding the reach of its Iron Dome rocket
interceptors to make do with fewer given the prospect of reduced
financial support from a cash-strapped United States, a senior
Israeli official said on Wednesday.
The U.S. Congress approved $205 million for Iron Dome in fiscal year
2011, which ended on Sept. 30, and President Barack Obama´s
administration said on March 27 it would seek "an appropriate level
of funding" for further acquisitions.
Israel has deployed three of the systems, which helped fend off
Palestinian rocket salvoes during a flare-up in fighting around the
Gaza Strip last month, and has spoken of needing 13 or 14 in total to
protect its various fronts.
But a senior Israeli official said that full deployment could be
reduced thanks to planned advances in Iron Dome, which uses small
radar-guided missiles to blow up Katyusha-style rockets with ranges
of between 5 km (3 miles) and 70 km (45 miles), as well as mortar
bombs, in mid-air.
The official, who briefed a small group of journalists on condition
of anonymity, predicted an increased interception range of up to 250
km, as well as more flexible aiming of Iron Dome units, which cost
around $50 million each.
"You could post it in the Dan region (greater Tel Aviv area) and it
would have enough range in either direction, both north and south,"
the official said, referring to Israel´s borders with Lebanon and
Gaza, territories where Islamist guerrillas have sizeable rocket
Iron Dome´s manufacturer, state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
Ltd., said last month that the government had ordered seven units so
far. The company is also developing David´s Sling, also known as
Magic Wand, an interceptor designed to shoot down longer-range
rockets and cruise missiles.
As a safeguard against enemy ballistic missiles of the kind held by
Iran and Syria, Israel has also deployed Arrow, which carries out
interceptions at atmospheric altitudes.
Like Iron Dome and David´s Sling, Arrow has been extensively
underwritten by the United States, which is keen to show its support
for Israel in the face of an Iranian nuclear programme that the
Jewish state has described as a mortal threat.
The Israeli official anticipated that talks with the United States on
a "new round" of missile-defence funding would be completed in two or
While praising American largesse, the official said U.S. planners had
asked Israel to "point out honestly where the upper limit is in terms
of what can be implemented" with Iron Dome.
Summarising Washington´s message, the official said: "We don´t want
to give money for the sake of it, we are deep in (fiscal) challenges
ourselves." (Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Alistair Lyon) (©
Thomson Reuters 2012. 04/04/12)
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