Two recent missile tests have proved that Israel is on the way to equipping itself with the most comprehensive multi-layer missile defence system in the world.
Two weeks ago, the IDF and the Defence Ministry completed the first full test of the Iron Dome short-range interceptor system.
Iron Dome is designed to operate against rockets and artillery shells fired from between four and 70 km away.
It is based on a radar and tracking system, and includes interceptor missiles with proximity fuses that can identify the rockets which are threatening populated areas and eliminate them in mid-flight.
In the successful test, a Grad missile fired against an imaginary target was destroyed.
Iron Dome is now on schedule to be deployed in early 2010 around the Gaza Strip.
A second Iron Dome battalion will be deployed later on the border with Lebanon.
The second test last Wednesday was of the “improved” Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile, and took place over the Pacific Ocean.
The Arrow, already operational in Israel, is Israel’s main defence against long-range missiles from a range of 250 km upwards.
The new improved system has been designed to counter the threat of new longer-range Iranian missiles such as the Shihab 3, which can launch multiple warheads.
After a series of successful tests in Israel, the Arrow was test launched from the Pacific coast of California in order to examine the missile at a much longer range than can be done over the Mediterranean.
In the event, the detection and tracking systems of the Arrow worked perfectly but the interceptor missile was not launched because of technical problems with the target missile.
The “improved” Arrow 2 is to be deployed next year and the next stage of the project, the Arrow 3, which is designed to intercept missiles in outer space, is already under development.
The third component of the multi-layered missile defence system is David’s Sling, an interceptor system under joint Israeli-American development, aimed at missiles in the 70-250 km range.
This system is expected to be operational by 2015 and the three systems together will make Israel the first country in the world with a system shielding it from missiles launched from all ranges.