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Israel Facing Critical Decision On ABM Roadmap

The Qassem missile.
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Jan 18, 2007
Israel's defense establishment is about to bite the BMD bullet of deciding what kind of ballistic missile defense system to develop against the very short range, relatively low-tech Qassem missiles that Hamas has been firing into the Jewish State over the past year and a half. "After months of deliberations and disagreements, the Defense Ministry will decide by the end of the month which anti-Qassam rocket defense system to invest in and develop," The Jerusalem Post reported Jan. 13. The paper cited top Israeli defense officials as its sources for the report

"Once the decision is made concerning the Qassem system, officials estimate the development process will take at least two years, with certain systems -- if chosen -- taking up to four years. Estimations are that the project will cost at least $300 million," the newspaper said.

The paper said that the decision would be made by a committee headed by Defense Ministry Director General Gabi Ashkenazi that would hear assessments of the competing systems starting at the end of January.

Although the committee will hear assessments from both Israeli Army and Air force experts, the final decision looks like resting with the Israeli Air Force, or IAF, and not with the Army's Ground Forces Command or the Defense Ministry's Research and Development Authority, also known as MAFAT. The Post report noted that at its most recent meeting in November, the Ashkenazi committee put the IAF in charge of the project, not the GFC. The current Israel Defense Forces chief of staff is an air force officer, Gen. Dan Halutz.

The Jerusalem Post also knotted that the front-runner to get the contract was Rafael - Israel's Armament Development Authority.

"The system under consideration is based on two anti-missile systems being developed by Rafael: one involving a solid laser that will have the ability to intercept Qassems in mid-air, the other a small and cheap anti-rocket missile with a kinetic warhead," the newspaper said.

Whether the Ashkenazi committee adopts the Rafael system or not, funding it will be a significant problem. Israel's defense budget is under even more pressure than usual. Upgrading the nation's anti-ballistic missile defenses against the threat of potentially nuclear-armed Shihad-3 intermediate-range missiles and Ukrainian-built cruise missiles from Tehran is the primary threat. But last summer's brief military operations against Hezbollah, the Shiite Army of God, in southern Lebanon also exposed unanticipated shortages in army supplies.

Earlier this month "a top IDF general told reporters that the current defense budget did not include funds for the development of an anti-rocket system and that when a system was chosen its development would have to come at the expense of other military needs -- such as training -- if additional funding was not allocated by the government," the Jerusalem Post said

Source: United Press International

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F-15s May Air Launch PAC-3s
Washington (UPI) Jan 17, 2007
Lockheed Martin has won a contract from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to explore firing Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missiles from airplanes. The company said the tests would initially focus on using the Boeing McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle as the launch platform for the PAC-3s. Although the initial $ 3 million funding for the research program is small by the expensive R and D budgets of the BMD programs, its implications could be far reaching.

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