Israel to Buy U.S. Missile Intercept Systems

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Defense Minister Ehud Barak hopes to purchase the U.S.-manufactured, two-phase Vulcan-Phalanx missile intercept system.

The system will serve as a first line of defense for southern Israeli cities under threat of rocket and mortar shell attacks from Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' Iron Dome system, which should be ready for deployment by 2010, is designed to intercept longer-range rockets, such as the Grad-style Katyusha rockets fired at Ashkelon and Beersheva.

Several other defense systems, designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles, are also being developed.

Barak's efforts to purchase the U.S.-manufactured system, which began during the last administration, have been opposed by senior Defense officials, who favor Israeli-made systems.

The defense minister is convinced that the two-phase Vulcan-Phalanx is optimal for Israel's needs at this time.

"The Vulcan-Phalanx cannons and radar will be part of a multi-layer defense to intercept rockets," Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Israeli daily Haaretz.

"Such defense, as far as I am concerned, is a strategic goal. The goal is to create a situation in which as many rockets as possible launched at Israel are intercepted," Barak said.

The U.S. military, which uses the two-part Vulcan-Phalanx in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been reticent to sell even one of the systems to other countries.

During an upcoming visit to the States in June, Barak will try to convince Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to prioritize Israel's request for the Vulcan-Phalanx.

If he's successful, the system could be delivered by winter.

Source: Haaretz

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