Israel Upgrades Iron Dome Anti-Missile Batteries

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- In the face of continued rocket and missile threats from all sides, Israel is upgrading its anti-missile defense systems.

A series of tests on the fifth Iron Dome anti-missile battery -- to be added to the four already deployed in the south -- proved successful, the Ministry of Defense announced Sunday.

The newest Iron Dome will be able to intercept larger missiles at greater ranges, such as Iran's Fajr-5 missile. An upgraded radar system will also improve its capabilities.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said within a few years the whole country will be protected.

"The defense establishment has been investing massive sums in multi-layered missile defense array, which within the next few years is projected to cover all of Israel's territory," Barak said.

During a two-day visit last week, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey toured an Iron Dome battery in the south, saying America is "definitely proud" to partner with Israel "in a very successful initiative."

Israel's multi-layered defense systems include David's Sling, also known as the Magic Wand, which intercepts medium-range rockets and missiles. David's Sling is slated to be operational in 2015.

The Arrow 2 and Arrow 3, jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and the U.S. Boeing Co., complete the multi-layered system.

The Arrow 2, which has been operational since 2005, intercepts medium-range rockets and missiles, such as Syrian Scuds, Iran's Shahab and Hezbollah's M600. The Arrow 2 also has upgraded command and control systems, sensor array and other essential upgrades.

The Arrow 3, still under development, will intercept ballistic missiles at high altitudes. It's designed to be launched into space moments after an incoming missile is detected, where it assesses the speed and trajectory before destroying it just outside the earth's atmosphere.

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