Raytheon Company and Rafael Armament Development Authority have been selected by the Israel Ministry of Defense’ Defense Research and development Directorate (DDRD) to develop a new terminal missile defense interceptor to defeat a variety of low-cost, short-range ballistic missile threats. According to an IMOD announcement, The next step in the program will be a feasibility study. No decision about full scale development has been made.
The Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense program is an IMDO initiative to address the proliferating threat of short-range ballistic threats. Such missiles and rockets are cheap, plentiful, easily concealed and largely exempt from international arms control accords. These relatively insignificant battlefield weapons can be transformed into deadly, strategic threats when fitted with unconventional warheads and deployed in large quantities.
Israel and the US have agreed to jointly develop new Short Range Missile Defense (SRMD) capability. The systems will be optimized to defend against short range ballistic missiles and long range rockets with ranges of 70 – 200 km. The new system will establish a lower tier, complementing the Israeli Arrow system, which extends the defensive capability to longer range and higher altitude. The program will be managed by the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), which already supervises Israel’s ballistic missile defense program.
The SRMD program will be based on a interceptor, under development by RAFAEL. The IMDO selected the solution proposed by a team headed by Raytheon and RAFAEL. This team competed against another plan, proposed by Boeing, IAI/MLM and ATK which proposed an Arrow derivative missile interceptor, augmented by a lower tier RAM solution, based on a low cost rocket to be developed by IMI. “Raytheon’s cooperation with Rafael ensures that Rafael’s multi-mission interceptor is designed from the start for seamless insertion into U.S. terminal missile defense systems. Our approach provides the U.S. Army with a low-cost extended air defense option for the future,” said Michael Booen, Raytheon vice president of Advanced Missile Defense programs commenting on the company’s selection by the IMDO.
The interceptor proposed by Raytheon and RAFAEL, is specially designed for all-weather, day and night “hit to kill” intercept, and is considered to be low cost and optimized for the trajectory and short flight time of the potential SRMD and rocket targets. “Our interceptor solution fundamentally redefines the performance-cost value equation for terminal missile defense, providing all-weather, hit-to-kill performance at a tactical missile price,” said David Stemer, Rafael Missile Division general manager.
IAI, RAFAEL and Northrop Grumman have teamed in the past to develop the Nautilus chemical laser based rocket and mortar defense program, which has recently been cancelled due to lack of funding and limited access to current generation (solid state laser) technology. Facing the new threat of improvised rockets fired from the Gaza strip, Israel could revive this program, which will be based on locally developed directed energy sources.