Air Defense: November 21, 1999


The Israelis have declared that there can be no real air superiority without dealing with the threat from ballistic missiles. To that end, they are pursuing a number of new technologies and tactics to shut down a missile attack in its early stages. The Tactical High Energy Laser (a joint US-Israeli program to see its first test against a live target late this year) will eventually be able to shoot down Katyusha rockets and even artillery shells. Later versions of it (some of them airborne) will be targeted on tactical and medium range ballistic missiles including Scud, the Iranian Shihab, and the North Korean Taepo-Dong. Unmanned Armed Aerial Vehicles will form a key component of the anti-missile system. One type, known as the Post-Launch Attack system, will loiter over enemy territory to detect missile launches and will be able to attack the launchers, cutting down on the second wave. Another system, the Post-Launch Interceptor, will also detect the launch of a ballistic missile but will then attack the missile itself in its early flight stages. The Israelis want to move the anti-missile battle over enemy territory, so that the wreckage (possibly filled with chemical or biological agents) will fall on the soil of the aggressor nation. -- Stephen V Cole


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