On Monday, a conference was convened in Jerusalem under the banner "The Critical Need for Missile Defense for Israel's National Security" by the non-profit Israel Missile Defense Association (IMDA) and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Retired Major General Amos Yaron, a former Defense Ministry Director, said the conference promoted the idea of an active missile defense system for Israel, comprised of missiles or lasers that would intercept incoming enemy missiles.
According to defense industry publications, Israel is developing a top-tier missile defense system known as the Arrow-3, which will intercept missiles higher in the atmosphere than existing systems. The enemy threats envisioned by developers include nuclear-tipped Iranian Shihab-3 missiles. The Arrow-3 deployed in combination with the Arrow-2 and the US-designed Patriot missile arrays, IDF officials believe, can provide near-complete counter-missile coverage.
"We developed the Arrow system," Yaron said during Monday's conference, "which is the most advanced missile defense system today. In the past, we also began developing the Nautilus system, which was meant to be based on lasers, but we were forced to stop due to budgetary constraints. Today, in light of the Second Lebanon War and events in the Gaza region, we will have to reconsider its continued development. One need only consider that such projects demand a great deal of time… Development goes on for many years."
Conference organizers say that the Second Lebanon War and the ongoing rocket attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon will likely tilt public opinion towards demanding unequivocal solutions from Israel's leaders.
DefenseNews.com quoted an unnamed "senior military planner" as saying, "Unlike the diplomats and politicians, we don't have the luxury of hope. Our job is to anticipate the most extreme, worst-case scenarios and make sure we're prepared to handle them."
Israel is developing a top-tier missile defense system known as the Arrow-3.
Arieh Herzog, head of Israel's Missile Defense Agency, said that the IDF rejected the American Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, because "it cannot fit our requirements." US Defense Department officials are reviewing the Arrow-3 system designs, which will not be fully operational for at least five years.
Lectures at the conference were delivered by: Maj. Gen. (res.) David Ivry, a former Air Force chief and ambassador to the United States; Brig.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Eilam, Chairman of IMDA and former head of the Directorate for Research and Development at the Ministry of Defense; Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University; Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, former commander of the IDF National Defense College and the IDF Staff and Command College; Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council and National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister; Prof. Uzi Arad; Maj.-Gen. (res.) Herzl Bodinger, former Commander of the Air Force; Dr. James G. Roche, former Secretary of the US Air Force, Uzi Rubin, Founding Project Director of the Arrow Missile Program; and David Brodet, former Director General of the Ministry of Finance.