suffered Katyusha attacks since the mid 1970s, as Palestinian
guerillas, based in South Lebanon used short range 107mm rockets
to bypass the border obstacle ('electronic fence") established
along the Lebanese border, to prevent terrorist infiltrations.
For 30 years Israel avoided the decision and commitment to
establish adequate defenses against such threats. Israel willingly
left this capability gap open, despite spending tens of millions
of dollars on a joint program with the US to develop laser
defenses to counter rocket threats. The prevailing argument
was that the risks of rocket attacks did not justify diverting
the huge funding from other, higher priority programs.
The recent war in Lebanon, and the IDF failure to put a stop
to the continuous attacks of improvised Qassam rockets from
the Gaza strip, despite unchallenged domination from the air.
Political pressure which mounted after the 2nd Lebanon war,
drove the Minister of defense, Amir Perez to demand adequate
answers without further delay.
A committee, headed by former Director General of the MoD,
and future Chief of Staff Major General Gabi Ashkenazi, evaluated
several options proposed by four companies, and today recommended
to select a system proposed by RAFAEL, as offering an all-weather
capable solution, at the lowest risk, within relatively a short
development cycle. The development and procurement cost of the
entire system is estimated at about US$ 0.5 billion, spent over
three to five years.
On February 1, 2007 the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) selected
RAFAEL to develop the system that could mitigate the rocket
threat. Called "Iron Cap" the system will address
the threat of short range rockets, including Qassam improvised
rockets and Katyushas fired by Palestinian and Hezbollah guerillas
from Gaza and South Lebanon. The mobile Iron Cap system will
most probably will consist of mobile radar systems, battle management
center and missile firing units employing a version of a yet
unspecified number of missiles, to be modified into rocket interceptor.
The system will utilize a new radar developed at IAI's Elta,
capable of tracking multiple targets and discriminate between
benign threats and those threatening the protected targets.
The system should have a sophisticated battle management capability,
track multiple targets from rocket salvos, plotting the trajectories
of each rocket, identifying those which pose a most critical
threat and engaging them effectively, over neutral area, therefore
reducing collateral damage on the ground. The system's radar
and battle management elements will integrate two types of interceptors
- one designed to defeat ultra-short-range rockets flying at
low rajectories and another, designed to intercept long medium
and range rockets, developed for the"Magic Wand" system.
RAFAEL has already embarked on another missile defense program
known as Magic Wand,
which will use the new Stunner missile. "Iron Cap"
is expected to use a different, much smaller interceptor, which
will cost about about $30,000 each. Although the MoD selected
the system to be developed, an agreement on the funding is yet
to be reached with the Ministry of Treasury and approved by
Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. And this could prove to be quite
a challenge. Although Israel's defense budget for 2007 was increased,
most of the additional money will support procurement for replenishment
of stores used during the recent conflict, acquisition of high
priority systems and increased training activities. Allocating
the resources for the "Iron Cap" could face a significant
Once all programs are completed, Israel will have a three-tier
missile and rocket defensive systems in place. The operational
system, capable of defeating ballistic missiles at high altitude,
within or above the earth atmosphere, at ranges of hundred kilometers
from the Israeli border. Development and production for Arrow
were funded jointly by the U.S. and Israel.
"Magic Wand", currently in development under cooperation
between Israel and the USA, as a joint venture between RAFAEL
and Raytheon, will address short range missiles and long range
rockets (ranges of 40 - 200km), such as the Iranian made Zilzal
2 and Fajr 5, deployed by Hezbollah in Lebanon. From their positions
in Lebanon and Syria, such weapons can target most of the Israeli
population centers and strategic sites.
"Iron Cap", selected today will offer defense against
short range threats, including Qassam and Katyusha, such as
the 107mm rockets, which present the most irritating and continuous
threat to cities and settlements along the Israeli Northern
and Western borders. Iron Cap will address threats at ranges
of 'tens of kilometers', overlapping the Magic Curtain's capabilities
at the lower end. The system will share the same radar and battle
management system of the "Magic Wand".