The "Iron Dome" system deployed to protect the Israeli population from short-range rockets is also efficient against aircraft up to an altitude of 32,800ft (10,000m).

A Rafael source said that during the deployment of the first three systems the Israeli air force has learned about the extra capability.

"It will serve as another layer in our anti-aircraft deployment that consists of upgraded Hawk and Patriot missiles," the source said.

In the past few months, Iron Dome batteries have intercepted more than 90% of the BM-21 Grad and Kassam rockets launched from Gaza into Israel.

A mobile defence system aimed at intercepting short-range rockets and artillery shells, Iron Dome avoids causing collateral damage by detonating a target warhead away from the defended area. Its interceptor has an effective range up to 70km (38nm), according to Rafael.

Foreign sources have indicated that Singapore has already purchased the Iron Dome system, with other countries also likely to show interest.

Source: Flight International