The Israeli Air Force has acquired a new electro-optical system capable of spotting an aircraft hundreds of kilometers away.

The IAF’s Air Defense Forces installed the system, called “Sniper” late last month, but delayed showing it off to reporters until this week at an air base in Palmachim.

The system includes two cameras with night-vision capability that allows one to identify and track aircraft—or a missile—flying at top speeds hundreds of kilometers away. 

The “Sniper” is used as an adjunct system to the American-made Patriot and Israeli-made Arrow defense systems used to intercept incoming ballistic missiles.

Developed by a group of three Israeli defense firms, the system has been reserved for use in the Jewish State alone.

An upgraded version of the Arrow system, the Arrow-3, is currently in development; the system would stop missiles at a high altitude, and at a distance far from the civilian population. It is expected to make its debut sometime in the next six or seven years.

Also on Tuesday, the IAF unveiled prototypes of the missiles that will be used in two anti-missile systems that are expected to start operating by 2010 – the Iron Dome and David’s Sling.

The Iron Dome, being developed by Rafael Military Industries Ltd., has successfully passed its repeated tests over the past several months, with all systems deemed “Go.” The IDF is currently in the process of determining who will staff the Iron Dome batteries, designed to intercept short-range rockets, when operational.

By 2012-2013, David’s Sling is expected to join the Iron Dome in protecting Israel’s skies. The system is designed to intercept medium-range rockets, like the Katyushas that struck the port city of Ashkelon earlier this year.