Wednesday, July 26, 2006

¿donde esta el sistema de antimisiles de israel?

En el siguiente reporte se analiza por que Israel no ha usado su sistema de defensa antimisiles contra los cohetes que le ha disparado Hezbolá desde Libano
Israel’s missile defense systems: MIA
Even though the country has been bombarded with missiles and rockets for well over a week, Israel's missile defense system has yet to make an appearance.
By Victoria Samson
Despite being inundated with volleys from Hezbollah – at writing, estimates range from 700 to 1,500 missiles and rockets launched at Israel in the past week – Israel’s two missile defense systems have been silent. Neither its Arrow system (co-developed with the United States) nor its version of the Patriot has been used in this conflict, largely because they are not designed to handle the kind of threat that Hezbollah represents. Hezbollah is shooting projectiles that have ranges mostly around 10 miles, while the missile defense systems are geared toward shooting down missiles that range from a couple hundred to roughly 1,000 miles.
Israel has a two-tiered missile defense system. The first, the Arrow Weapon System, is to intercept ballistic missiles in their final phase of flight. It would do so by shooting the US-developed Arrow II interceptor at a threat. Once the Israel-developed Green Pine Fire Control Radar, Citron Tree Fire Control Center and Hazel Nut Tree Launcher Center have sent the interceptor near the target, the Arrow II would blow up, with the hope that the fragments from the blast would either destroy the target or knock it sufficiently off course so that it would no longer remain a threat. There are two Arrow batteries deployed. One covers the center of Israel from its position in Palmahim, while the other in Ein Shemer is supposed to defend Israel’s northern territory. The Arrow systems do not move around very quickly and it is uncertain how much defense the two Arrow batteries would be able to provide to the southern part of the country.
Israel also has an early version of the US Patriot missile defense system. The Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-2 is designed to defend against ballistic missile targets in their terminal phase as well; also, it would provide defense via a blast-fragmentation warhead (as opposed to the United States’ more advanced version, the PAC-3, which uses kinetic energy from a direct hit to provide a defense). The Patriot differs from the Arrow in that it aims at targets which are at lower altitudes.
The main reason why neither missile defense system has been used is because they are not designed to intercept short-range rockets. It is estimated that of the 13,000 or so rockets and missiles in Hezbollah’s arsenal, 11,000 of them are of the Katyusha type. These rockets have a short range – maybe up to nine miles or so – and a small warhead of roughly 40 pounds. Based on vintage Soviet technology, these rockets can be rolled out of a hiding place, shot and rolled back in before any detection can be made. Their flight is over in seconds, making tracking difficult, much less shooting anything down. A system would have to be in exactly the right place to detect the missile once it is launched, then the defensive system would have to make a nearly instantaneous decision to respond, after which the interceptor would have to get to the target quickly enough to destroy it. It is an exceedingly difficult proposition when the flight times are as short as those launched by Hezbollah.
Hezbollah is thought to have received help from Iran on its weapon arsenal. Indeed, it has surprised the Israelis with what looked like Iranian-origin Fajr 3’s, which can take a 200-pound warhead up to 25 miles, and Fajr 5’s, which can send a 385-pound warhead up to 45 miles. There were reports that Israel destroyed a launcher for a Zelzal missile in Beirut, thought to range 65 to 120 miles.
The biggest jump in Hezbollah’s capabilities was revealed when it targeted and hit an Israeli warship with a radar-seeking cruise missile. This level of technical prowess had been heretofore unknown by Hezbollah. On 14 July, two missiles were launched at Israel’s Hanit, which was stationed roughly 10 miles off the coast of Lebanon. The first missile (C-801/802 Chinese Silkworm cruise missile) apparently was deliberately sent high so that the ship would deploy its defenses, allowing a second low-flying cruise missile, probably a C-701 TV guided missile, to come in unnoticed and make a direct hit. One Israeli soldier was killed in the attack. Furthermore, the first missile locked onto an Egyptian vessel about 30 miles off the shore of Lebanon and hit it, apparently following its radar after it flew over the Hanit.
This attack is reminiscent of 2003’s Operation Iraqi Freedom, where the Iraqi military jury-rigged several old Chinese Silkworms to fly over land against unsuspecting US military bases.
Both of these instances underline a very important distinction: the missile defenses Israel has deployed at present, and that the United States had fielded at the time, were designed to detect, track and intercept ballistic missiles. Ballistic missiles fly very different trajectories than cruise missiles. The latter fly more erratically, are lower to the ground, and are overall more difficult to track. Cruise missiles bring an entirely different level of threat to the situation.
Also, the Patriot and the Arrow tracking systems tend to get overloaded when there are too many airborne targets to follow. Given that Hezbollah is sending up volleys of missiles and rockets, and that the Israeli air force has sent many of its aircraft on bombing raids against Lebanese territory, this air picture is extremely complicated and challenging for any system to pick out appropriate airborne targets.
Finally, despite Israel’s two-tiered missile defense system, it is missing the capability to defend against short-range missiles. According to Uzi Rubin, the founder of the Arrow, it is not optimized for threats with ranges below 125 miles or so. In May, the Israeli government awarded a contract to a Raytheon/Rafael team to provide a defense against missiles with ranges of 24 to 155 miles. This new short-range ballistic missile defense system, which would use a direct intercept to destroy its targets, is supposed to also defend against cruise missiles. However, it is still in the very early planning stages, with its development continuing through 2010. In the meantime, Israel can defend itself the old-fashioned way: through conventional attacks on ground targets thought to be associated with Hezbollah or diplomatic forays.

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