Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA May-June 2017 Contents DefenceReviewAsia | MAY/JUNE 2017 15
One layer above is the Rafael-Raytheon David’s
Sling designed to intercept longer-range rockets
and cruise missiles. All these system are either fully
operational or one step from it.
The threat on Israel is diversified and constantly
changing. The convoy that was attacked in Syria
in March 2017 was another effort on the part of
Hezbollah to upgrade its capability to launch more
types of rockets and missiles into Israel.
The basic threat is from homemade Kassam
rockets of the type used by the Hamas in the Gaza
strip. These simple rockets have caused damage
and killed people in Southern Israel in the many
rounds of fighting in that area. But Hamas has
beefed up its capabilities with shipments of 122mm
"Grad" rockets that have reached the area through
the hundreds of tunnels that were dug along the
Gaza - Egypt border.
Israeli sources say that 75% of the rockets that
were launched into Israel during the "Protective
Edge" operation were manufactured in Gaza -
including those with a 100km range.
Almost every day the IDF detects the launch of
upgraded rockets made in Gaza. These are test
fired into the Mediterranean. The rocket arsenal of
the Hezbollah in Lebanon is even bigger and also
varies from 122mm Grad through Fatah 110 up to
The third arsenal on the Israeli border are the
rockets and Scud B/C/D ballistic missiles that are
part of the Syrian army's arsenal. Israeli sources say
that this arsenal has only residual capability.
According to Israeli intelligence, some of these
missiles were fitted with chemical warheads. Syria
fooled the world when its government declared
that all such weapons were destroyed. During the
ongoing civil war, the Syrian army and air force has
used chemical weapons against not only the rebels
but also civilians – as television footage has so
dramatically and tragically shown.
But the major ballistic threat is from Iran. This
country has a big arsenal of long-range missiles.
While some reports in the Iranian press about new
versions of existing missiles are considered false, the
experts say that this country is capable of launching a
massive ballistic missile attack on Israel.
The Shihab-3 was the first intermediate range
ballistic missile that was built by Iran's military. A
local clone of the No Dong from North Korea, its first
version has a range of 1300km. Soon after, Iran came
up with two new models, with a range of 1650 and
In late 2007, the Iranian Defence Ministry
announced that the local missile industry has
developed a new weapon with a range of 2000km.
This one was dubbed the Ashura. This new two-stage
solid-fuel missile was tested on 12 November 2008.
An improved version, the Sajil-2, was tested on 20
May 2009. Improvements include a better navigation
system, better targeting system, more payload, longer
range, faster lift-off, longer storage time, quicker
launch and lower detection possibilities.
Another long-range ballistic missile is the Sajil. The
Iranians claim that it also has a 2000km range.
Israeli experts say that the Iranians sometimes use
different names for the same missile but they agree
that with foreign help mostly from North Korea, the
Iranians have " made a big leap forward".
And the Iranian ballistic missiles arsenal is growing.
In January 2017, a ballistic missile launched by
Iran was North Korean in construction or design,
according to the Pentagon. The missile test, which
ended in failure, was not a violation of 2015's Iranian
nuclear deal but is considered a violation of a U.N.
Security Council resolution.
The missile made a flight of 640 miles before it
exploded, either by accident or design. There are
no official details regarding what kind of weapon
it was, although it was certainly a ballistic missile.
U.S sources said that the missile was launched
from a test site near Senman, east of the Iranian
capital of Tehran and was the same type last tested
in April 2016.
In July 2016, a new Iranian missile was defined
by experts as a locally produced version of the
Musudan, a North Korean intermediate-range
weapon. Also known as the Hwasong-10, this is
allegedly derived from an obsolete Soviet Cold War
missile, the R-27 Zyb.
North Korea may have launched as many as eight
Musudans in 2016 alone as part of their development
effort. Not a single launch was considered successful
Arieh Herzog who headed the Israel Missile
Defense Organization in the Israeli Ministry of
Defense says that the combination of the two types
of Arrow interceptor and the improved detection and
classification of the incoming threat allows the IAF to
defend Israel to the best available level.
The detection and classification of incoming
ballistic missiles, even from long range, is designed to
enable a "shoot-look-shoot" operational mode, thus
providing at least two and possibly three chances to
kill each incoming threat.
The detection according to Herzog is made with
combined sensors on the ground and in space.
So the four tiered Israeli defense system has to
cope with multiple threats.
An undisclosed number of Iron Dome batteries are
already operational. In addition, Rafael, with Raytheon
are developing the "David’s Sling" interceptor that is
designed to handle longer-range rockets and "other
The Stunner missile of the David’s Sling system is
very agile with a special motor that is ignited three
times during the flight to the target.
The Arrow-3 is according to Herzog, the most
advanced interceptor in the Israeli arsenal. While
the Arrow-2 has a proximity fuse that detonates the
warhead, the Arrow-3 is designed as a "hit to kill"
interceptor. A kill vehicle is ejected from the main
missile and maneuvers itself until it achieves a kinetic
kill with the incoming enemy missile.
The Arrow-3 will intercept outside the atmosphere.
It is much smaller and lighter then the Arrow-2 and
has super maneuverability.
Herzog emphasized that the "End Game" when the
kill vehicle goes for the final impact, is not dependant
of any sensors on the ground. "This is made by the
So the Israeli four tiered rocket and missile
protection system is in place and being upgraded
continuously, according to the developing threat.
Minutes before the sequence of events began, IAF fighter jets attacked a
convoy that carried advanced weapons made in Iran.
In late 2007, the Iranian Defence Ministry announced that the local
missile industry has developed a new weapon with a range of 2000km.
Arrow-3 (IAI photo)
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