The Israel Defense Forces is planning to install Iron Dome missile defense batteries on board its advanced warships to protect the country's gas drilling platforms.
The installation of the interceptors is an interim solution that would remain in place until new ships meant to protect the rigs arrive from Germany in 2019. The ships were acquired in a deal estimated at 430 million euros.
According to a senior officer, the navy's Sa'ar 5 ships are currently equipped with Barak 1 missiles. The new ships, dubbed Sa'ar 6, will be equipped with the more advanced Barak 8 interceptors. In the meantime, the defense establishment wants to arm the ships with interceptors like those of the Iron Dome that could better protect Israel's gas drilling platforms from potential missile barrages.
In the near future the Israel Navy is planning to conduct a test in which an Iron Dome interceptor is launched from a battleship at a ballistic threat.
At present the navy routinely conducts patrols around the drilling platforms, and in times of emergency a battleship is deployed near every such rig to protect it from attacks.
The navy is also planning to reinforce aerial intelligence gathering in the area of the drilling platforms. According to the senior officer, the navy's protection of the rigs will be "improved" by the time the development of the gas reserves in the Leviathan field begins in 2020.