The military has announced a new capacity to protect Israel’s natural-gas drilling platforms following a successful test Monday of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system installed on a missile ship.
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The Israel Defense Forces tested Iron Dome’s ability to protect the country’s drilling platforms in the Mediterranean Sea.
The system, constructed on the missile ship’s helicopter pad, operates in tandem with the identification systems of the navy and air force. The testing began more than a year ago as a joint project of the navy, air force and defense contractors.
During the test, an Iron Dome battery was installed on the INS Lahav, a Sa’ar 5-class corvette. Various scenarios were tested, such as the firing of Grad rockets at gas-drilling platforms.
The air force team, working with the navy team, destroyed all rockets heading toward the simulated targets, leading to the conclusion that the system was ready for operations.
“We proved here an ability to coordinate between the naval radar and the Iron Dome system, and that’s a very significant accomplishment for us,” said Rear Admiral Dror Friedman.
“We got a really good result, and this test leads us to declare that we have an operational system.”
Troops in the air force’s air defense unit, who haven been trained with the navy teams, will be the people operating the system.
“We have combined air force and navy fighters for a joint operational capability,” said Zvika Haimovich, head of the IDF’s air defense.
“This test success adds to the other capabilities we have seen this year. The maritime Iron Dome, which became operational today, also joins our race against regional threats,” Haimovich said.
“This is really good news. We have here an excellent example of combining forces that bring us to a high operational level.”
The maritime Iron Dome will be based on ships, not the gas platforms themselves, for obvious safety issues. It is impossible to shoot a missile from a gas platform, which could catch fire.
The air force and navy view their coordination as a feat no less significant than the operability of the system itself.
“We have connected Iron Dome to command-and-control systems in a continuous and quality manner, such that each side exploits its abilities. The navy and air force each identified its capability,” Friedman said.
“It was very impressive to see this concert playing as one, with all sides speaking the same language and everyone knowing who is locating the target, who is firing at it and how. It’s a very significant defensive shield for Israel’s assets in the sea.”