Only last November, the Syrian army said Israeli jets fired two missiles on an area west of the capital, close to the Damascus Beirut-highway, in an attack mounted from Lebanese air space. Diplomatic sources say Israel has in the past few years targeted advanced weapons systems, including Russian made anti-aircraft and Iranian made missiles and bombed the elite Fourth Armored Division base on Qasioun mountain in the capital.
The United States has provided Israel with more than $3.3 billion over the past 10 years to develop an anti missile defensive system, that is capable of knocking down all sorts of missiles. With that money, in repose to the large stockpile of Iranian missiles already in the hands of Hezbollah and the potential of a direct attack by Iran, Israel has developed the most sophisticated anti-missile defense system. Israel’s multi-billion-dollar rocket and missile air defense system is by far superior to anything in the Middle East, and in some ways surpass, in speed and targeting, air defenses deployed by Europe and the United States. The Israeli missile defense system is being built in partnership with U.S. defense contractors, including Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The Israeli defense establishment and its American partners have designed a layered system that will allow a respond to simultaneous attacks from multiple fronts — the relatively crude homemade rockets lobbed by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, the mid-range rockets and missiles fired by the Shiite militants of Hezbollah from Lebanon, and the long-range ballistic missiles being developed by Iran that could carry conventional or chemical warheads.
Israel has developed a three tier approach aimed at intercepting short range, medium range, and long range missile attacks:
The most known Israeli anti-missile defense system is the Iron Dome. This system is designed at intercepting short range crude missiles fired from a short range (Gaza strip, Southern Lebanon, the Syrian controlled area of the Golan Heights, ISIS controlled areas along the Israeli-Egyptian border). The Iron Dome proved its effectiveness in the 2014 Gaza War when it intercepted over 90% of the missiles fired on Israeli cities from the Gaza strip.
The David’s Sling anti-missile defense system is designed to intercept short- and medium-range threats. David’s Sling is designed to shoot down tactical and short-range ballistic missiles and large rockets, thereby covering the gap between Israel’s Iron Dome and Arrow air-defense systems. Israel called David’s Sling “the world’s most revolutionary innovation in the family of interceptor systems.” The system is designed primarily to handle the kinds of rockets and missiles, built by Iran and Russia, that are now in the possession of the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon and the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Beyond the threat posed by the splintering of Syria, Israel is worried that Syrian missiles could be transferred to Hezbollah or acquired by the Islamic State or al-Qaeda.
The Israel Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced on 25 January that a successful live-fire test of a more advanced version of the David’s Sling air-defence system had been carried out earlier that day. The test, which was held at Palmachim Airbase south of Tel Aviv, resulted in the successful interception of a target launched from a fighter jet over the Mediterranean. The MoD released a video showing an F-15 carrying a Rafael Black Sparrow, a type of target normally used to simulate a basic ‘Scud-B’-type short-range ballistic missile.
The first David Sling systems were delivered to the Israeli Air Force in 2016, but the test involved a more advanced version that the MoD said is optimized to intercept maneuvering targets.
The Arrow-3, which is intended to stop long-range attacks and knock out enemy targets in space by deploying “kamikaze satellites,” or “kill vehicles,” that track their targets. It is designed to strike targets outside Earth’s atmosphere. The Arrow-3 missile defense system will form the uppermost layer of Israel’s multilayered defense system. It was expected to protect from ballistic missiles capable of flying thousands of miles. Iran has tested such missiles several times in the past, defying international sanctions.
Together the systems would give Israel a protective umbrella, countering threats posed by Iran, Hezbollah and terror groups in Gaza firing short-range missiles.
In addition, Israel is developing a new X-Band radar that will allow its forces to detect incoming missiles 500 or 600 miles out, vs. 100 miles, the current limit of the exisiting radar tracking systems. The system will also be able to prioritize incoming rockets and missiles by calculating their trajectories. Some missiles may not be intercepted, if their targets are fields and farms, but projectiles that would hit populated areas or important infrastructure — such as military bases, oil refineries and nuclear facilities — would be stopped.
Israel always maintained that it is responsible for the security of its citizens and for that developed the capabilities to protect itself. However, in 1991 during the 1st Gulf War, when Iraqi scud missiles exploded on Israeli cities, the US pressured Israel to remain passive and let the US led coalition forces to stop the attacks. Israel complied with the request. The US objected a direct Israeli intervention in the war in fear that the Arab nations who were part of the coalition would quite if Israel joined the war on Iraq.
Today, Israel is also coordinating its response with the US when it comes to ballistic missile attacks:
Recently, more than 1,700 U.S. soldiers and sailors, alongside American civilians and contractors, took part in an exercise, which focused on computer simulations of coordinated and sustained air attacks on Israel from multiple fronts.
In such a scenario, U.S. air defense probably would come into play, and the drill was designed not only to test Israel’s anti air systems but also to improve how well U.S. and Israeli assets can communicate and coordinate their response.
The Washington Post