At the lower tier, the market is preparing new air
defense systems for simultaneous missile and rocket defense. Due to
its unique geopolitical situation, Israel is the only country
constantly subjected to cross-border rocket attacks. However, with the
proliferation of global terrorism, demand for such systems is expected
to grow in the coming years.
Several Israeli companies are collaborating in the development of such
systems, including IAI subsidiaries Elta and RAFAEL. This consortium
has already introduced the Barak I missile defense system, and is
currently developing the Barak II and Spyder systems. Although
unconfirmed by Israel's official sources, it was reported that Barak
II has entered a $330 million development program funded jointly by
the Indian and Israeli defense ministries. The Spyder was jointly
funded by RAFAEL and IAI and is currently evaluated by several air
forces. "The RAFAEL Spyder concept reflects the multi-mission aspect
of modern air and missile defense systems" a senior IAF official told
Defense Update. "The Israel Air Force plans to evaluate the system."
Yossi Horowitz, marketing manager for air defense systems at RAFAEL
confirms the growing interest in the new systems: "At Defexpo 2006
exhibition in India RAFAEL unveiled the new Spyder MR, a growth
version of the Spyder SR system currently in development. The MR
system will employ the Derby and Python 5 missiles fitted with
boosters to enable vertical launching, to gain the initial speed and
altitude. Both interceptors will engage targets at ranges beyond 35
kilometers and up to an altitude of 16,000 meters.
Rocket, Artillery and Missile (C-RAM) defenses based on directed energy
weapons are also evolving and could be expected to mature within the
next few years. Chemical lasers are already providing such
capabilities, while safer solid state lasers, which are still in
development, promise to have even more potential. C-RAM systems will
become a reality in the future, offering multi-mission, low-cost per
kill, simple to operate tactical air defense system. While not
replacing current missile defenses, they will represent an
evolutionary phase enabling air defenses to handle new threats,
expected to be smaller and stealthier - based on high precision
weapons, long and short range cruise missiles and armed and unarmed UAVs. The challenge faced by air defense systems developers is to
establish a mix of multi-mission systems operating in different and
rapidly changing scenarios.
The IDF constantly monitors potential launch areas in the Gaza strip,
detecting improvised rocket launches, calculating their ballistic
trajectory and plotting the expected target, thus issuing a "Red Dawn"
warning for the population to take cover. These early warning systems
could be employed with active protection elements, such as low-cost
'hit to kill' interceptor missiles, C-RAM laser such as the Northrop
Grumman Skyguard or air defense artillery, firing
special ammunition, which could defeat the rockets in flight.
Reportedly, Israel evaluated the Rheinmetall Air-Bursting munitions (ABM) ammunition as a potential
countermeasure against improvised rocket attacks from Gaza but ABM
was found immature for operational use for the C-RAM role. Therefore,
at present, C-RAM countermeasures remain an "unsolved issue".