IAI and Boeing to Design Anti-Kassam Missile System
By Ezra HaLevi
Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Boeing aim to design a system to shoot down Kassam rockets, which have increasingly been fired toward Israeli population centers since the retreat from Gaza.
The Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRMBD) system has been deemed necessary by Israel's defense establishment as rockets are increasingly fired from Gaza toward critical Israeli installations such at Ashkelon’s Rotenberg Power Plant.
The range of the rockets continues to improve and Kassam rocket factories have also been discovered in northern Samaria. The Defense Ministry has concluded that it is only a matter of time until rockets are fired at targets in central Israel as well.
A terrorist from the Popular Resistance Organization told the Yediot Acharonot newspaper Monday that efforts are underway to launch Kassam rockets from Judea and Samaria. He said that a Kassam rocket launcher confiscated in Bethlehem recently was intended for an attack against Jerusalem's southern Gilo neighborhood.
The SRMBD will supposedly be able to detect the launch of Kassam rockets and intercept them at a high altitude, using technology similar to that used in the Arrow anti-missile system.
Boeing and IAI have worked together in the past, developing the Arrow. Also bidding for the tender will be US company Raytheon together with the Israeli Armament Development Authority. The participation of two of America’s largest defense companies leads defense experts to conclude that the U.S. is concerned about short-range ballistic missiles as well.
“It is inconceivable that companies such as Boeing or Raytheon," one expert told Globes, "which have such strong links with the Pentagon, would sign comprehensive joint venture agreements with Israeli companies without first obtaining the green light from the [U.S.] secretary of defense."
At the same time, the cooperation allows the United States to support its own defense industry by giving Israel aid earmarked for spending on U.S. arms. Much of the Arrow missile system is manufactured in America, and the SRMBD is expected to be as well.