A recent deal for the purchase of hundreds of millions of shekels worth of guided rockets for the Israel Defense Forces is a forward-looking step that takes into account future battlefield needs, a military expert told JNS on Tuesday.
Yiftah Shapir, former head of the Middle East military balance program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said the purchase of accurate surface-to-surface rockets from the defense company Israel Military Industries (IMI) will create new, rapid-firepower response capabilities for the IDF’s ground forces.
“The rockets will provide in-house firepower support and put it in the hands of the brigade or division commander,” said Shapir. Whereas in the past, the IDF’s artillery units would fire inaccurate shells at large areas, the new precise rockets will enable ground units to strike specific targets, he added.
This will mean that ground units will be less dependent on the Israeli Air Force for fire-support needs.
“In addition,” said Shapir, “intelligence-gathering was once exclusively in the hands of the air force. Today, ground units have their own small drones, which they control, rather than the air force. The Artillery Corps units [armed with the new precise rockets] will receive intelligence at the division or brigade level, and then be able to provide in-house firepower support.
“This is very precise firepower,” he continued. “The units will not have to wait. Therefore, this acquisition is smart, and is taking the future into account.”
‘Focus and magnify the IDF’s attack system’
New technology is enabling rockets to become more guided and accurate at unprecedented levels, according to Shapir. And the Israel Air Force could also benefit from the development, as it will help free it up for rapid responses to other threats on multiple fronts.
Air-force officials have noted in the past that only advanced aircraft—with their speed, sensors and firepower—can deal with developing threats at various ranges in time.
On Monday, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced that it had signed a contract with IMI, in a deal hailed by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman as a major step in the setting up of a new missile force.
The missile force will operate as part of the ground forces of the IDF, enabling units to “cover every spot within seconds, at various ranges,” said Lieberman.
“This precise firepower ability improves the IDF’s ability significantly and enables long-range, accurate strikes at immediate notice and at a lower mission price compared to other weapons systems,” IMI said in an official statement.
A security source added that the IDF has already begun using a version of IMI’s rockets, called Romach (“spear” in Hebrew), which have GPS guidance and a short-range strike range.
While the Defense Ministry has not disclosed what other rockets the latest deal includes, it could entail longer-range IMI rockets such as the Extra model, which has a range up of 150 kilometers and has already been sold to a number of foreign militaries. The IDF may also receive the Predator Hawk long-range rocket, which has a range up of to 300 kilometers.
In its official statement, IMI said that the new rockets will have advanced technology to suit them to the modern-day battlefield.
“The plan for setting up a missile and accurate rocket force is in moving ahead quickly. Some are already in production, and some are completing research and development,” explained Lieberman. “We are purchasing and developing accurate firepower systems, which will enable us to focus and magnify the IDF’s attack systems.”