Job 1: Israeli Missile Defense

Israel needs to mount a crash program to install a short-range missile defense system before Hizbollah, Syria and Iran launch their next attack – and it’s in the US interest to help with money and talent.

In spite of Hizbollah’s public deployment of over 12,000 rockets, Israel decided not to deploy the THEL laser weapon that shoots down Katyushas. So now Northern Israel’s infrastructure is a wreck, much of its forests are burned and Israel looks vulnerable to its enemies.

The ceasefire might buy Israel 24 months – just time to install this (my ellipsis):

The THEL laser and radar system was designed to track up to sixty targets (mortar and artillery shells, rockets) at a time and fire on and destroy these projectiles at a range of up to five kilometers. THEL can destroy about a dozen targets a minute, at a cost of some $3,000 per shot.

Each THEL system (radar and laser) could thus cover about ten kilometers of border. (An improved) version has a range of up to eight kilometers, is using improved software and can more easily link to other radar systems to obtain targeting information.

Northrop Grumman now says that it can have (the improved THEL) system ready in 18 months, at a development cost of $400 million. Each anti-rocket system would cost about $50 million, and eight or nine would be required to cover the Lebanese border. One or two could cover Gaza.

Attackers will try to swamp THEL defenses with synchronized volleys, so I’d go for 20 systems and after deployment keep development running to improve the THEL rate of fire.

We’re looking at about $1.5 billion and the US should – at least – fund the development. And Israel and the US should run the deployment as a crash program, using their very best engineers and managers. Time is not on our side – next time Israel might not make it, with terrible consequences for US foreign policy.


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