The Israel Air Force on Tuesday unveiled prototypes of the missiles that will form the basis of two planned rocket interception systems - Iron Dome and David's Sling.
Iron Dome, which is designed to intercept short-range rockets, is expected to be operational in the first half of 2010. Over the past few months, the system has been tested several times. All the tests were defined as successful, and the army is already allocating manpower to staff the planned Iron Dome batteries. The system is being developed by the Israeli firm Rafael.
David's Sling, which is meant to counter medium-range rockets, is expected to be operational in 2012 or 2013.
Alongside its work on systems to counter short- and medium-range rockets, the IAF has also been working for years to improve two systems for intercepting ballistic missiles - the American-made Patriot and the Israeli-made Arrow.
An upgraded version of the Arrow, the Arrow-3, is expected to be operational midway through the next decade; this will enable ballistic missiles to be intercepted high above the ground and far outside the country's borders.
Also on Tuesday, the IAF unveiled Sniper, a system developed by three Israeli companies that enables identifying a target, whether missile or plane, while it is still hundreds of kilometers from Israel, thereby enabling it to be struck with missiles. The IAF stressed that this system is currently reserved for Israel's exclusive use; Patriot batteries elsewhere in the world are not equipped with Sniper.
A senior officer said the first Sniper units were deployed about a month ago, and more will be deployed in the future. He added that Israel now has the ability to bring down dozens of missiles simultaneously, and to select which missiles to target based on each missile's projected landing site.
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