“About two years from today, we will have David's Sling and Arrow III capabilities,” says T. “In some unique and specific cases, we also have partners in the U.S. Army who have joined us in part of our mission.”
In fact, U.S. officials confirm that a combined exercises is scheduled for year-end.
“It's part of our relationship with the U.S. and it's part of the [active defense] that the U.S. becomes a well-coordinated and synchronized part of the battlefield environment.”
The Iron Dome anti-missile system is the newest element of active defense.
“It is a young system with 15 months of operational experience,” says T. “Unfortunately, every 3-4 months there is a new escalation [of rocket attacks] from Gaza to Israel. Imagine the environment without Iron Dome. During the second Lebanon war in 2006, in 33 days there were 4,200 rockets launched. Around 2 million civilians were without any active defense.
“The way it works today is for [Iron Dome] to be very mobile, to be capable of changing position in hours and thereby offering key leaders more options,” the colonel says. “It's my job to see that the batteries are in the right place. There are no rules. I don't want to prepare myself for the last escalation, but to be ready for the next.”
Israeli aerospace officials contend that Iron Dome has a success rate of 90-95%. But Defense Minister Ehud Barak asserts that the number is lower. “The Iron Dome system has been proven to be . . . extremely effective intercepting more than 80 percent of incoming missiles [while ignoring] those that are not going to hit real targets.” So Barak's statement is ambiguous about whether the remaining 20% of enemy missiles were missed or ignored.
“The numbers are nice, but they are the past,” says T. “The next escalation is like a soccer game. It starts at 0-0.”
Norkin says the IAF's trials in creating an air defense network are only just beginning. As Israel stands up a new cyberforce, the capability has to be designed to be able to reach all the way into the tactical level and into these air defenses. Those networks offer attack pathways to hackers unless they have adequate cyberdefenses. Another crucial part of the task will be, for budgetary reasons, to refrain from creating new organizations or develop new weapons.
“We shouldn't develop new tools that we can get from other organizations,” says Norkin. “We need to synchronize cyber with other IAF capabilities. We have to build headquarters and command and control to work in the correct way to bring all the systems together. We can't separate attack and defense. We have to put them in the same room for real-time operations.”