Magic Wand anti-missile system set for critical trial

Rafael and Raytheon's medium range missile interception system will soon be tested in southern Israel.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. will soon conduct one of the most critical trials for the Magic Wand system for intercepting intermediate range missiles. Magic Wand is one of three weapons designed to protect Israel from the missile and rocket threat. It is an advanced system being developed in cooperation with US company Raytheon, and in the upcoming trial its ability to explode a target missile in the air will be tested for the first time.

The trial will take place somewhere in southern Israel where it will be required to destroy a dummy missile. The Magic Wand system, comprising a launcher, radar, and interceptor missile called Stunner are already primed for the test missile. No less primed are Rafael's air-to-air administrative and air defense personnel who have carried out development of the system in recent years.

Very many eyes in Israel and the US will be glued to the monitors, analyzing and examining every fraction of a second throughout the interception trial. Meanwhile the interception missile is still on the ground while tension among administrative staff is sky high.

Rafael marketing and business development director Yossi Horowitz told "Globes," "Despite the enormous tension, we feel good about the situation. In the past we have done a great deal of development in the area of missiles and gained vast experience and a lot of know-how, and from this we have the feeling that we are doing it right."

Rafael's employees are exceptionally busy at the moment. They are building the sixth Iron Dome rocket interception system and the fifth will soon be delivered to the Israel Air Force. Updated software was added to the system in recent weeks and successfully tested, and this should significantly improve the response of Iron Dome batteries and their Tamir interception missile for a wider range of rockets and missiles threatening Israeli civilians.

The Magic Wand system is supposed to provide a solution for the space between Iron Dome, which intercepts short range missiles, and the Arrow 3 for long range missiles, even fired through space, which is still under development. A successful trial for Magic Wand will ensure the continued push by Rafael and Raytheon to their target: Operational Magic Wand batteries by 2014, and then, while Israel may be threatened by many more missiles, it will also have the world's best defense system.

The manufacture of the missile interception batteries will be done at the same time as development. Horowitz explained, "That's what we did with Iron Dome and this is the approach we are also taking with Magic Wand. Otherwise there will be no end to it. We simply don't have the time. Horowitz will reveal more details about Magic Wand next week at the Aerospace 2012 conference being organized by the Technologies Group at Airport City near Ben Gurion Airport.

Magic Wand's Stunner interception missile will be multi-purpose, and will be launched at high speed from the ground to shoot down ballistic missiles and heavy rockets and more. According to Rafael's vision, it will also be able to shoot down aircraft like any advanced anti-aircraft missile, and if necessary used as an air-to-air missile fired by the Israel Air Force's combat aircraft against enemy planes.

Horowitz said, "The idea is to take a technology engine and build a wide range of products around it." He added that the main reason for this vision is money. "We are in an era of a frenzy of cuts in defense budgets. The US has cut its weapons equipment budget and Germany is cutting half its Patriot missiles. The cost of maintaining specific missiles for different targets is very high, and a missile from one family that can fulfill all tasks substantially reduces costs."

Thus the price of a PAC-3 model Patriot missile is about $5 million and Rafael promises that the Stunner will be capable of doing much more, better, and for less money. "It will cost between 20% and 25% less than a Patriot interception missile system," he believes.

This is not the only significant trial that will take place shortly. Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) and the Ministry of Defense are continuing preparations for the critical trial of the new Arrow 3 missile, which is designed to destroy ballistic missiles in space. The new defense system will undergo a tough basic training which, when completed, should reveal it as the successful response to the threats from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 13, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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