Rafael Advanced Systems recently led testing for Israel’s missile defense systems to coordinate with Israel’s Navy and Air Force with resounding success. The productive tests augment Israel’s overall strategic and operational abilities by delivering interoperability. The complex functions required and successfully carried out by both people and systems result in their preparedness to mitigate current and future threats.
Israel leveraged RAS to test the following systems:
- Arrow: Intercepts long-range missiles
- David’s Sling: Targets medium-range missiles
- Iron Dome: Defends against rocket fire
The Brigadier General who oversees Israel’s Air Force defense program, Ran Kochav, highlighted the live drill simulation’s complexity. His comments on the intricacy of the human and technological decision-making required to complete the task point to integrating artificial intelligence in their advanced defense systems. Cruise missiles, in particular, present a challenge to intercept as they are maneuverable at high, fast speeds, but the tests accomplished this task simultaneously along with others. In addition to cruise missiles, the defense system protects against various weapons, including unmanned aerial vehicles and ballistic threats. Analysis by think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracy suggests the tests send a clear message to Israel’s foes that they are equipped and prepared to combat a range of attacks and to retaliate against attacks.
Israel—With the U.S. as Ally—Faces a Variety of Threats
Israel faces threats from various sources, including Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, Iranian-proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Iran itself. For its part, Iran is currently limited to short and medium-range missiles. However, a leading author on Iran and other experts express concern that they may develop long-range ones. Hezbollah will likely attempt to import guided missiles if they are not available to develop their own. The combination of guided missiles and Israel’s enemies in proximity to them creates the possibility of precision-attacks on multiple targets in Israel.
In addition to the threat facing Israel, Iran also presents a clear and present threat to the U.S. in the Middle East. General Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, cited an Iranian ballistic missile inventory of 2,500-3,000. While Iran does not yet possess intercontinental ballistic missiles, their current supply of short and mid-range missiles, PGMs, and combat drones can strike with precision in their surrounding area, including targets in Iran and U.S. personnel and military assets in Iraq and other areas. The “Fotros” long-range attack drone, for example, can fly for 30 hours and has a range of 1,250 miles.
A leading bi-partisan research institution notes Iran and its proxies have escalated rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq since Mary of 2019. One attack, occurring on January 8, 2020, led to the downing of a Ukraine civilian airliner. The attack came on the heels of the U.S. execution via drone strike of IRGC’s top general, Qassem Soleimani. More recently, they targeted the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Successful Missile Defense Tests Send a Strong Message
Not only are Israel’s successful tests indicative of an advanced, multilayered defense system with interoperability, but they also send a clear message to Israel’s foes. The Israel Defense Forces regard Iran’s nuclear program as its number one threat and Hezbollah’s precision-guided munitions as number two. Thus, the live test results communicate a clear message to both groups that Israel is prepared to defend against such attacks and willing to both intercept and retaliate. To that end, Benjamin Netanyahu signed off on the recent National Security Strategy, which communicates that Israel can be prepared to target terrorists, even if those targets reside in key places in Tehran and Lebanon.
A national security research fellow, along with other foreign policy experts, maintains that recent strides in peace-making efforts in the Middle East support stability in the region. While it remains unclear whether Israel will share advanced weapon defense with its new partners, such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, what is certain is the vested interest those countries share. A Biden administration would be well-served to support those countries’ ongoing partnerships in the region rather than revisiting deals with Iran.