Rafael and the Israeli air force have successfully tested an upgraded version of the former's Iron Dome interceptor, which is designed to shoot down incoming rockets from increased range. Tested a few days ago, the modification is required, as intelligence data suggest that Hezbollah militants in Lebanon have received longer-range rockets from Iran.

The upgraded elements will be incorporated in the Israeli air force's fifth Iron Dome battery, which will become operational very soon. The mobile air defence system is designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells.

 Iron Dome - Rex Features

Rex Features

With the growing number of systems now available, the service plans to deploy the equipment not only to defend major towns and cities, but also to protect critical installations. One will be deployed to defend oil refineries in Haifa in northern Israel. The nation's largest port, Haifa came under rocket attack during the second Lebanon war in 2006.

In recent months, deployed Iron Dome systems have succeeded in intercepting more than 90% of the BM-21 "Grad" and Kassam rockets that have been launched into Israel from Gaza.

The system's main components include a tracking radar, battle management and weapons control and missile firing units, plus interceptors with a range of up to 38nm (70km). The system avoids collateral damage by detonating the target warhead away from the defended area.

Source: Flight International