The Happy Arab News Service

Wednesday, November 29, 2006



By Amos Harel

The American defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corporation has improved its Skyshield air defense system in ways that can offer a future answer to the threats posed by Qassam and Katyusha rockets.

Skyshield, a gun-based air defense system for low-flying aircraft and helicopters, uses bursting rounds that explode in proximity of the target, destroying it. The Israeli defense establishment has been interested in weapons systems of this type in an effort to counter the threat posed by rockets such as Katyushas used during the Lebanon war by Hezbollah against the Galilee, and the Qassams that are fired from the Gaza Strip against the western Negev.

Lockheed carried out improvements of Skyshield so it will be able to intercept rockets, mortars and artillery shells.

The rounds fired by the Skyshield's gun are made of tungsten, and have successfully penetrated and destroyed the warheads of several types of ballistic weapons, including Qassam and Katyusha rockets, during laboratory experiments. The rockets were not destroyed in flight, and therefore cannot be considered as having been intercepted, but at Lockheed there is optimism regarding the possibility that in the future, Skyshield will be able to offer a counter to these threats.

The estimated cost of the system is $15 million and delivery will be possible as early as the beginning of next year.


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