In response to security intel which states that Hezbollah continues to bolster its short and medium-range missile capabilities, the Israel Defense Ministry (IDF) took a significant step towards arming itself against continued threats and enabling it to hit targets with great precision, from a distance, at a relatively low cost per mission.
In an announcement on Monday, the IDF stated that it had purchased a vast network of surface-to-surface precision missiles, for an undisclosed sum, and is reportedly seeking longer-range arms that can target the whole region.
The ministry said Israel Military Industries will supply the IDF with rockets that can hit targets between 30 kilometers and 150 kilometers away (18 to 93 miles).
The ministry said only that the deal is worth “hundreds of millions of shekels.”
“This precision firepower significantly improves the IDF’s capabilities and enables precise impact on remote launch, immediate availability and low mission cost compared to other combat systems,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“We are acquiring and developing precision fire systems that will enable the IDF…within a few years to cover any point in the region,” added Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
It will also allow Israel to fire at Hezbollah targets from its own territory using a system more precise than artillery fire and ostensibly safer than aerial attacks which often place pilots and planes in enemy territory.
Spokespeople for both the Defense Ministry and IMI declined to disclose the exact price of the rocket system as well as further details on its capabilities.
However, Hadashot news reported that among the missiles purchased were multiple launch rocket systems, or MLRS, which will be able to reach targets 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. These rockets have warheads that contain 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of explosives and are guided by GPS. The system can fire 18 rockets per minute.
The Defense Ministry is also interested in purchasing a number of other models from IMI, including Extended Range Artillery (EXTRA). EXTRA missiles have a maximum range of 150 kilometers (93 miles) and can carry a 120-kilogram (265-pound) warhead, according to IMI. They cost $300,000 per rocket.
Another model being considered is the Predator Hawk, a tactical ballistic missile with a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles), which would cover all of Lebanon.
The notion of forming such an arsenal of ground-based missiles and a dedicated corps responsible for it has been bandied about in the IDF General Staff for years, but ultimately these types of missiles have remained in limited use and under the purview of the air force, which also reportedly operates long-range varieties, like the Jericho.
According to a January report in Yedioth Ahronoth, Liberman met with senior IDF officers and, following a short discussion, ended years of consideration with a decision to form the array, pledging a starting budget of some half a billion shekels, with the potential for far more in the coming years.
Originally posted at Times of Israel.