The Iron Dome missile intercept system will be declared operational within a number of weeks, after the Israel Air Force – who will be responsible for operating the system – conducted successful test-runs for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The interception of target missiles in the test-runs proved successful, and this marked the final stage of tests of the new Israel Air Force unit.
The operation was conducted at a test site in southern Israel, practicing five different scenarios in which the system launched rockets at various ranges. The missiles launched by the Iron Dome successfully intercepted and destroyed the rockets in every scenario.
The operation was conducted by IAF officers and soldiers in cooperation with the Defense Ministry, who oversaw the development of the Iron Dome with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
The IAF was in possession of the first of two Iron Dome batteries for a number of months already. Owing to a series of technical problems, the announcement of the system as operational was postponed, but is now expected to take place within a number of weeks. Some parts of the second battery have already been sent to the IAF.
The IAF estimates that 13 Iron Dome systems will be required to effectively protect Israeli civilians from short-range missiles. It is not yet clear if and when the new battery will be deployed in southern Israel. The IAF currently plans on positioning the battery in the base and only deploying it upon demand. Despite that, members of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee demand the battery be positioned in the Israeli towns near the Gaza border.
In late 2010, Barack Obama's administration allocated $205 million dollars toward funding the Iron Dome.
Several months earlier, the Defense Ministry's top brass estimated the sum the Americans allotted would be sufficient for procuring eight or nine batteries, half of what is necessary to protect the Negev and the Galilee from short- and intermediate-range rockets and missiles
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