The interceptor is a two-stage missile, with two targeting and guidance systems installed in its nose-tip (a radar and an electro-optical sensor).
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is getting ready to field test its newest anti-missile weapon, David's Sling and its Stunner interceptor.
Iron Dome, which got its baptism of fire in April 2011 against Soviet-era Grad rockets and indigenously produced Qassams, is currently engaged in battling longer-range, Iranian-built Fajr-5 missiles unleashed by Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.
It's the first time Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza have fired the Fajr-5 against Israel.
It has a range of nearly 50 miles. That's enough to hit metropolitan Tel Aviv, Israel's largest urban conurbation with a population if around 3 million, 40 percent of the country's people.
But Hezbollah used them during its 34-day war with Israel in July-August 2006 and they hit as far south as the port city of Haifa, Israel's main naval base.
Hezbollah called its enhanced variant of the Fajr-5, a road-mobile weapon built by Iran's Aerospace Industries Organization, the Khaibar-1.
The Iron Dome 2.0, which extended range and more accurate interceptions capabilities, is being used to counter the Fajrs in the current escalating battle in war-battered Gaza.
David's Sling, developed by Rafael and the U.S. Raytheon Co., will fill the middle layer of Israel's emerging anti-missile shield. Iron Dome constitutes the bottom level.
Raytheon developed the system's missile firing unit and overall logistics.
Above David's Sling is the Arrow-2 anti-ballistic system, built by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing of the United States, is designed to destroy Iran's Shehab-3b intermediate-range missiles and the Sejjil-2 weapon still under development.
Arrow-2, a variant of a system first deployed operationally in 2000, is a high-altitude, long-range weapons designed to intercept ballistic missiles in the final stage of their trajectory.
Arrow-3, the most advanced variant now under development, is intended to destroy ballistic weapons outside Earth's atmosphere, with existing Arrow-2 batteries as back-up for those missiles that slip through the Israeli defenses.
The price of one of Raytheon's PAC-3 model Patriots is about $5 million and Rafael believes the Stunner, David's Sling's interceptor, will be capable of doing much more than the Patriot, better and for less money.
"It will cost between 20 percent and 25 percent less than a Patriot interception missile system," Horowitz said.
Arrow 3 antiballastics missile system
Arrow 3 should be able to intercept ballistic missiles, especially those carrying weapons of mass destruction, at altitudes of over 100 km (62 mi), and in greater ranges. It could also be ship-based. Arrow 3 is slightly smaller than the Arrow 2, faster, weighing nearly half.
An Arrow 3 battery is expected to intercept salvos of more than five ballistic missiles within 30 seconds. Arrow 3 can be launched into an area of space before it is known where the target missile is going. When the target and its course are identified, the Arrow interceptor is redirected using its thrust-vectoring nozzle to close the gap and conduct a "body-to-body" interception.
Arrow 3 may have a reduced 30-year life-cycle cost. It should use the same launch system as Arrow 2. Reportedly it will cost $2–$3 million per unit, while program cost is estimated at some $700–$800 million over three years.
According to numerous Israeli experts, namely Prof. Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, former director of the Israeli Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure and currently the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, it is also possible that the Arrow 3 could serve as an anti-satellite weapon.
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