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Israel wants to buy US rocket intercept system

by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) April 21, 2009
Israel wants to buy a rocket intercept system from the United States to protect against militant fire from the Gaza Strip, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview published on Tuesday.

"The Vulcan-Phalanx canons and radar will be part of a multi-layer defence to intercept rockets," Barak told the Haaretz newspaper.

"Such defence, as far as I am concerned, is a strategic goal," he said.

The system consists of the Phalanx radar for targeting rockets and the 20-millimetre Vulcan Gatling gun to shoot them down, with each component costing 25 million dollars (19 million euros), Haaretz said.

The gun component is already being used by American and Israeli navy ships, it said.

Previous requests by Israel to buy the Vulcan-Phalanx have been waved aside by the US defence establishment, which has used the system with success in Iraq and Afghanistan and has reserved for its own military all units to be produced in the near future, it said.

During his planned June visit to the United States, Barak will ask US Defence Secretary Robert Gates to put Israel at the top of the list for the system, with the hope of securing at least one by the winter, Haaretz said.

Militants in the Gaza Strip, run by the Islamist Hamas movement since June 2007, regularly fire rockets and mortars into Israel. Most of the projectiles are notoriously inaccurate home-made devices dubbed "Qassam" with a range of up to 12 kilometres (more than seven miles).

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