Defense officials are looking into acquiring hundreds of missiles and precision rockets that could destroy targets during a confrontation with forces inside Lebanon.
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The focus of their interest is a pair of developments – IMI Systems’ Extra rocket and Israel Aerospace Industries’ LORA surface-to-surface missile.
The Artillery Corps currently uses the Romach artillery rocket system, which uses a GPS-based guidance system to hit targets up to 35 kilometers away with an accuracy of less than 10 meters and has a 20-kilogram warhead. The Israeli army plans to use these rockets when the air force’s operations are limited or when the air force is on other missions. The goal is to include a rocket battalion in every maneuvering division of the army. Israel has delivered hundreds of similar rockets to armies around the world.
Acquisition of the new ballistics would expand Israel’s options for a ground-based attack. The Extra’s range is 150 kilometers with accuracy comparable to the Romach, according to IMI Systems (formerly Israel Military Industries), carrying a warhead of 120 kilos. The mobile rockets can be fired from the border. Some 600 of these rockets have been sold abroad for around $300,000 a piece. Israel reportedly sold some 200 such rockets to Vietnam to protect its beaches.
The LORA’s range is 300 kilometers with a reported warhead of up to 600 kilograms. IAI also boasts of the accuracy of the missile, which can be fired from land or sea. Defense officials had previously considered this option but turned it down. Its estimated cost is three million shekels ($785,000), according to defense experts.
IMI Systems is also developing a long-range rocket, called the Predator Hawk. “This rocket has a range of up to 300 kilometers and can carry a 200-kilo warhead,” said an industry analyst.
Some Israel Air Force officials opposed the long-range system regarding the operation of surface-to-surface missiles. They argued that the air force should carry out such missions under its responsibility. A defense official said that officials are now looking at the economic repercussions of equipping the military with hundreds of such rockets and missiles.
“Israel sells this all over the world, just not here,” said the official. “I think there is agreement that we will need to equip ourselves with this. The question is only the amount. There is no doubt we need some LORAs and some Extras.”
Meanwhile, Hezbollah is also operating a system of rockets and advanced surface-to-surface missiles. The use of rockets is nothing new, but the extent of development and equipping in recent years by Hezbollah and Hamas has expanded greatly. An officer in the IDF General Staff recently described the ability of the two terror groups, particularly Hezbollah, to develop and acquire rockets and highly accurate missiles as the development that is “the most worrisome and bothersome to Israel by the enemy.” He stressed: “It is the most significant threat.”
Hezbollah currently reportedly possesses some 100,000 short-range Grad and Katyusha rockets, which have a range of 45 kilometers. Hezbollah also possesses Fajr rockets with a 75-kilometer range; Iranian Zilzal rockets, which have a 200-kilometer range; Fateh and M-600 ballistic missiles with a 250-kilometer range, and Syrian Scud-Ds, which have a 700-kilometer range.