Maj.-Gen. Ido Nechushtan
Maj.-Gen. Ido NechushtanIsrael News photo (Bamachaneh)

The 'Iron Dome' (Kippat Barzel) defensive system against short-range rockets and missiles will begin operating on a small scale in the near future, Israel Air Force (IAF) Commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nechushtan says.

Speaking before a convention at the Fisher Institute for Strategic Aerospace Research on Wednesday, the IAF chief said, "The financial outlay is not so terrible at all, and the costs are much less than in large military operations."

"Iran has long range missiles that can reach Israel," Nechushtan said.  "We are familiar with them and we know about them and they are called Shihab-3... Whoever uses missiles [against Israel] will know that many of them will not enter Israel."

Iran Will Attack IAF Bases?

Nechushtan said he doubted Iran could cripple the IAF by attacking its bases.  "The IAF's ability to strike is immensely better than that of our enemies' missiles, and yet we know and understand what effort and precision are needed in order to paralyze an air field," Nechushtan said.

The IAF, he promised, "will know how to function under missile attack as well, if necessary."

The Kela David (David's Slingshot) system, also known as Magic Wand, will only become operational in a few years' time, he said. This system will be tasked with intercepting medium-to-long range missiles, and is being developed by Israel's Rafael firm in cooperation with U.S.-based Raytheon.

The Arrow-3 system, which is meant to block long range ballistic missiles, will take longer and the rate of its development will depend on the funds invested in the project.