Olmert Okays Development of Rafael Missile Defense System

Projected cost of 'Iron Dome' short-range missile defense system stands at NIS 1.5 billion over 3 years.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday approved a proposal by Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the defense establishment to develop the "Iron Dome" short-range missile defense system, according to plans presented by the Rafael Armament Development Authority.

Olmert convened a discussion with Peretz and Minister Rafi Eitan (Pensioners' Party), in which Yaakov Nagel, head of the Defense Ministry's R&D department, presented a review of the selected project.

At the end of the discussion, Olmert said, "The development and positioning of this system is clearly an inevitable necessity these days, and together with other defense systems, including the "Magic Wand" medium-range missile defense system and the "Arrow" long-range missile defense system, will provide the residents of Israel with the finest defense against the threat of missiles."

According to the plan, Rafael's "Iron Dome" and "Magic Wand" systems will be used to defend against Qassam rockets, short-range Katyushas, and medium-range Iranian-made "Zelzal" missiles, and "Arrow" missiles will protect Israel from Syrian and Iranian long-range missiles.

The cost of the approved project stands at NIS 1.5 billion, over the course of approximately three years, to be used for development and initial armament to protect Israel's south and north.

Funds for the project have not yet been allocated, and Olmert has instructed the defense establishment to discuss possible sources of funding from within the treasury.