January, 2024


Israel is a very close ally for the United States and this position enables Israel to share some of the most advanced U.S. technologies. Geopolitics of the Middle East region and very hostile neighbors (technically Israel has been at war with Syria for decades) dictates the country to pursue and sometimes pioneer missile defense strategies, especially in the defense against the short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles.

Israel’s precarious geographic location make the need for missile defense a critical one. Israel is threatened by ballistic missile attacks from state and non-state actors. States hostile to Israel—such as Iran and Syria—pose an existential threat and have done so since Israel’s formation in 1948. However, non-state actors such as Hezbollah and Hamas have emerged recently to increase the risk of missile, mortar, and artillery strikes on Israeli territory.

The main threat not only for Israel but also for the international community as a whole is proliferation of ballistic missiles, especially if accompanied with weapons of mass destruction. This is particularly true of Iran, which is trying to play a more important role in the region, in part by advancing its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. As a result, Israel has been one of the world’s loudest critics of the Joint Cooperative plan of Action (JCPOA).

Israel is also widely believed to have dozens of nuclear warheads and intermediate-range (Jericho 2) and short-range (Jericho 1) ballistic missiles.

Israel has a multi-layered missile defense system. The Iron Dome comprises the lower tier of Israeli missile defense system while the David’s Sling system covers middle-layer threats, and the Arrow system defends against long-range projectiles.

Israel’s Ballistic Missile Defense Capabilities

SystemOperatorNumber DeployedPlatform 
Arrow-2Israel3 BatteriesMobile/ Ground-Basedarrow-launcher
Arrow-3Israel3 BatteriesMobile/Ground-Based
David’s SlingIsraelCurrently being deployedGround, Naval, or Aerial Platformdavids-sling
Iron DomeIsrael10 BatteriesGround-Based/ Stationaryiron-dome
Patriot/ PAC-2Israel3 BatteriesGround-Based/ Mobilepatriot-1
Green Pine radar (EL/M 2080) Israel2Ground-based/  Transportablee

Israel has a number of Patriot batteries, along with an unknown number of MIM-23 Hawks, which are  ground-based, mobile, medium-range air defense systems that defend against low and medium altitude airborne threats such as aircraft and missiles, as well as an unconfirmed number of Spyder and Spyder-MR, which are Surface-to-Air Python & Derby Air Defense Systems.  The systems are quick reaction, low level missile systems designed to successfully counter attacks by fixed and rotary wing aircraft, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). they can launch both Derby medium range active radar seeker missile and Python 5 advanced dual waveband IR short range missile.

Arrow-2 & -3

The Arrow system was Israel’s first missile defense system and was designed to counter short-range ballistic missiles. The Arrow Weapon System (AWS), developed by the United States and Israel, provides Israel the capability to defend itself against imminent and developing ballistic missile threats. In addition, it provides the US with critical data and technology for its missile defense programs. It consists of Arrow anti-missile interceptors, the Elta EL/M “Green Pine” early warning radar, the Elisra “Golden Citron” command and control center, and the Aerospace Industries “Brown Hazelnut” launch control center.

David’s Sling

Recently tested and soon to be deployed, David’s Sling makes up the middle tier of Israel’s layered BMD architecture and is designed to intercept short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase. The system was co-developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and U.S. -based Raytheon. Using its two-stage Stunner interceptor and multi-mission radar, David’s Sling is employed as a flexible, multipurpose weapon system capable of engaging aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. Testing for David’s Sling began in 2014 and the BMD system underwent operational deployment in May of 2018.

Iron Dome

Israel’s current short-range anti-rocket system is called Iron Dome, which was independently developed by Israel and became operational in early 2011. The Iron Dome, a short-range anti-rocket system, has made headlines as one of the worlds best current missile defense systems.

In his interview with Newsweek Ricki Ellison, the chairman and founder of Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, drew a comparison between the Irone Dome and other missile defense systems. Ellison observes that whilst “the Iron Dome system is more designed to intercept rockets and not cruise missiles,” the US National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) are designed to intercept cruise missiles. Also, Mr. Ellison contends that that “Israel’s Iron Dome system serves as a ‘standalone system,’ while the Patriot missile defense system can “mesh in with other systems around it.” [i]

Israel upgraded its tracking and firing mechanisms and expanded the number of batteries from five to nine between 2012 and 2014. In that same year, Iron Dome intercepted 90% of short-range projectiles fired at Israel. Iron dome is as yet the only combat-tested missile defense system in Israel. The U.S.-made Patriot missile is another defense interceptor that Israel has in their arsenal, in addition to the AN/TPY-2 radar. The sensors built to detect the actual missiles from the decoys have been improved in 2012. AN-TPY-2 X-band radar was currently deployed in Israel. Click here for more information on Iron Dome.

Israel has at least ten Iron Dome batteries deployed throughout the country, each
designed to defend a 60-square-mile populated area.92 Israel’s Defense Ministry claims that Iron Dome successfully intercepted 97% of all targets it engaged during a summer 2022 confrontation in which Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fired rockets into Israel.

U.S. Financial Assistance to Israel for Iron Dome

Fiscal YearAmount Appropriated (FY2006-FY2023)
FY2017$62 million
FY2018$92 million
FY2019$70 million
FY2020$95 million
FY2021$73 million
FY2022$1,108 million
FY2023$80 million
Total$2,915.281 billion

Israel’s Air Defense Capabilities

SystemRoleNumber DeployedPlatform 
 MIM-104 Patriot/PAC-2Medium- to long-range air defense (PAC-2 GEM/T interceptors) 8 Batteries Road-mobilepac-2-patriot
 SPYDERShort – to medium-range air defense Unknown Truck-mounted 
ELM-2084 MMRAir Defense and Surveillance UnknownTruck-mountedelm-radar
ELM-2106 ATARMedium-Range Tactical Air Defense and SurveillanceUnknownTruck-Mounted
ELM-2090 TerraEarly Warning and Tracking, Extended Air and Missile Defense Coverage, and Long-Range DetectionUnknownFixed Position Radar
ELM-2090u UltraSmall-Target Detection at Long Ranges, Air Defense, and Early Warning and DetectionUnknownFixed Position Radar
ELM-2090s SpectraEarly Detection and Search and TrackUnknownRoad- and Ship-Mobile


The Israel’s Eye: Sky Dew

The Tal Shamayim or the Sky Dew is a system that is comprised of a blimp capable of flying at high altitudes with radar and detection systems to scan a wide range in any direction. The radar-based system is part of a general effort by the Israeli Air Force to improve the country’s air defenses, particularly in the north, due to the proliferation of Iranian drones, cruise and long-range missiles in the region. Owing to the size of Israel, however, it is likely that the system also covers other areas around Israel other than just North. 

 The system itself has been developed under a cooperative program between the Israel’s Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA). That system is comprised of the the High Availability Aerostat System (HAAS), the zeppelin-inspired platform and an advanced radar designed to detect incoming threats at long ranges when operating at high altitudes. The HAAS was developed and manufactured by TCOM, the US company, but ELTA, an Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI) subsidiary, developed an advanced radar system. The huge reconnaissance balloon itself was also produced by the American TCOM, the same company that produced the aerostat for The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS, Spy Balloon). The platform, which can stay in the air for days, uses non-flammable helium gas to stay in the air.  

 Photograph: The Defense Post

Current Developments

Israel has been working to establish a four-layer active defense network with the development of David’s Sling and Arrow 3, in addition to its already operational Arrow 2 and Iron Dome systems.

In August 2008, Israel and the United States initiated the development of “David’s Sling” which is designed to counter short- and medium- range ballistic missiles, long-range rockets, and slower-flying cruise missiles, such as those possessed by Hezbollah in Lebanon. David’s Sling is expected to defend Israel against Scud B-class ballistic missiles, Syrian 302mm rockets, and Iranian half-ton warhead Fatah-110 rockets that are in the Lebanon-based Hezbollah’s stockpile. In December 2015, David’s Sling underwent its final tests and by mid-2016 it is expected the system will become operational.

In 2007, Israel—with U.S. assistance—began production of the Arrow-3 missile defense system, which is designed to counter medium-range ballistic missiles. According to Israel, the development of the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Capability is to be accelerated in order to cope with the threat from Iran. Arrow 3 successfully carried out an interception test in December 2015.

Arrow 3 was declared operational and deployed in January 2017.[ii] The United States and Israel signed an Arrow III co-production agreement in June 2019; their co-production of Arrow III components is ongoing.121 A U.S.-based subsidiary of IAI, Stark Aerospace Inc. based in Columbus, Mississippi, is producing canisters for the Arrow III system. In January 2022, Israel successfully tested Arrow III with reported breakthroughs in the system’s algorithmic detection of incoming projectiles and calculation of interception launch trajectories.

Most recently, Israel has begun to integrate its Iron Dome system onto its naval ships. The military said it had successfully tested the system in an exercise where projectiles that simulated existing threats in the region were intercepted. The system will defend Israeli ships and other assets at sea.[ii]

U.S. Financial Assistance to Israel for the Arrow System Improvement Program

 Fiscal YearAmount Appropriated Arrow II (FY2006-FY2023)Amount Appropriated Arrow III – High Altitudem (FY2006-FY2023)
 FY2018$82 million $310 million
 FY2019$163 million $80 million
 FY2020$159 million $55 million
 FY2021$173 million $77 million
 FY2022$173 million $62 million
 FY2023$173 million $80 million
 Total$1,799.476 million $1,407.779 million

Israel’s Armed Drone Unit: The Black Snake

Israel is perhaps unique in the world in designating a specific unite in its army for managing its drone activities: Squadron 161, also known as “the Black Snake.” For 20 years, a gag order had been issued by Israel censors prohibiting local media from discussing the open secret that Israel has armed drones. That finally changed July 20, 2022. [iii] However, until 2023, it has been almost eleven years that the squadron has been involved in carrying out extensive activity and development. [iiii]

Recent News

Much of Hamas’s explosives comes from IDF fire that failed to detonate — report

  • The Israel Times: Hamas steals a “significant number” of its weapons from Israel, and much of its material for explosives from IDF duds, reported The New York Times on Sunday, citing Israeli and Western intelligence officials, and a former senior Israeli police officer.

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Hamas surprise attack out of Gaza stuns Israel and leaves hundreds dead in fighting, retaliation

  • AP News: Backed by a barrage of rockets, Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns, killing dozens and abducting others in an unprecedented surprise attack during a major Jewish holiday Saturday. A stunned Israel launched airstrikes in Gaza, with its prime minister saying the country is now at war with Hamas and vowing to inflict an “unprecedented price.”

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House Passes Defense Authorization Act with $500 Million for Israel Missile Systems

  • The Algemeiner: The House of Representatives on Friday passed the $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2024, which includes $500 million in missile defense for Israel and a slew of other pro-Israel provisions.

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Air Force successfully tests ‘expanded capability’ of David’s Sling defense system

  • The Times of Israel: The Defense Ministry and military said Sunday that the Israeli Air Force and Rafael defense firm had successfully completed a recent series of tests with the David’s Sling medium-range air defense system. According to a joint statement, David’s Sling faced off against “advanced threats,” expanding the system’s capability “and significantly improving the air defense layers of the State of Israel.”

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Gallant, Ukrainian counterpart discuss joint threat from Iran, missile warning system

  • The Times of Israel: Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke Wednesday with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov and discussed the ongoing Russian invasion as well as a missile warning system that Israel is developing for Ukraine.

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Netanyahu Says He’s Opposed To Any Interim U.S.-Iran Deal On Nuclear Program

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on June 18 that he opposes any interim agreement reportedly being negotiated between the United States and Iran over its nuclear program. Netanyahu spoke after reports in Israeli media said understandings are being reached between Washington and Tehran that would seek to hold back Iran’s nuclear program somewhat, in exchange for some sanctions relief.

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Israel’s David’s Sling Air Defense System Makes First Operational Intercept

  • Israel’s David’s Sling air and missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon. It was the system’s first operational intercept since its induction in 2017.

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In First, Israeli Anti-drone Radars Deployed in Ukraine

  • Ukraine received radar systems last week manufactured by the Israeli RADA Electronic Industries, the Lithuanian Blue/Yellow volunteer organization that donated the systems announced on Thursday. 

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Ukraine starts testing Israeli missile warning system in Kyiv

  • An Israeli early warning system for missile attacks began operating in Kyiv this week, Ukranian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Kornichuk said on Wednesday. Kornichuk had asked Israel for missile warning systems since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. The previous government promised the system to Ukraine, but the ambassador credited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal involvement in ensuring the project’s quick completion.

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Iron Dome Is Not Enough to Make Israel Safe 

  • Most Americans probably take news reports of missiles launched by terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel as more of the same. After all, it often seems that news of attacks against Israel and retaliatory airstrikes are as common as the news of mass shootings in the United States.

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Israel to Supply Dozens of Orbiter 3 UAVs to Greece

  • Israel’s defense company Aeronautics, owned by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Stolero Aeron, agreed to supply Greece with Orbiter 3 unmanned aerial systems (UAVs) in a government-to-government contract. The deal is part of the sale of Rafael’s Spike missiles to the country in a package worth 370 million euros ($404 million).

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Philippines Gets Additional Fast-Attack Interdiction Ships From Israel

  • The Philippine Navy has taken delivery of two more fast attack interdiction-missile (FAIC-M) vessels from Israel Shipyards. The delivery is part of the country’s Horizon 2 military modernization program launched in 2019 under former President Rodrigo Duterte. According to Philippine Navy spokesperson Capt. Benjo Negranza, the boats were loaded into the general cargo ship M/V Mick and delivered to a naval shipyard in the central Philippines for a series of tests and crew training.

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Israel says signs $400 million deal to sell Greece anti-tank missiles

  • Israel signed a 1.44 billion shekel ($400 million) deal to sell Spike anti-tank missiles to Greece, Israel’s Defence Ministry said on Monday, just days after reaching a similar-sized deal to provide air defences to newly-inducted NATO member Finland.

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Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ Defense System Compared to U.S. NASAMS, Patriots

  • Israel experienced an array of rocket attacks from Lebanon on Thursday, which appeared to be sent from Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian militant group. In a video posted to Twitter on Friday morning, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) international spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht said that Israel’s “Iron Dome Aerial Defense System has been operating to intercept the rockets saving countless lives and preventing wide-scale damage on the home front.”

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Germany to advance purchase of Israel’s Arrow-3 defense system – exclusive

  • The German Defense Ministry will sign a Letter of Intent (LOI) to purchase Israel’s Arrow 3 missile defense system in approximately two weeks, The Jerusalem Post has learned. At the same time, while there was hope that the Bundestag might give its final approval this week or in the near future, a series of questions from the parliament has resulted in postponing final approval until the fall session. Once the LOI is signed, the countries’ defense ministries and sectors can start laying more concrete foundations for the deal’s specifics ahead of final approval.

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IAI teams with Australian co on missile defense

  • Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Australian defense company Daronmont Technologies, to deliver advanced air and missile defense capabilities as part of the Australian Ministry of Defense Tender (AIR-6502) for the procurement of defense systems and other Australian Defense Forces (ADF) programs. The agreement was signed at the AVALON Australian International Airshow.

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