IDF shoots down targets in test of Patriot, Iron Dome air defense systems

Military declares exercise a success, saying it checked the preparedness of aerial defense soldiers and missile batteries

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

The Israeli Air Force conducted successful live-fire tests of its Patriot and Iron Dome missile defense systems on Tuesday, the military said.

The exercise had been subjected to the military censor until Wednesday evening.

“Air defense soldiers from the Israeli Air Force conducted successful interceptions of targets at various heights and ranges,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

The Patriot air defense system is meant to intercept both incoming aircraft and long-range ballistic missiles, while the Iron Dome is designed to shoot down short-range rocket and mortar attacks, as well as some aircraft.

Illustrative: In this handout file photo provided by the Israeli Army on February 22, 2001, a Patriot anti-missile missile is launched on the last day of joint five-day US-Israeli military exercise in the Negev desert. (Israel Defense Forces/AFP)

The Air Force said the exercise, which was conducted in central Israel, was meant to test the preparedness of its air defense and technical units, as well as the air defense batteries themselves.

The IDF said the exercise was part of its annual training schedule.

Two foreign military delegations visited the exercise, the military said, refusing to specify the two countries.

“The delegations came to watch the exercise and to study its results. The delegations will take part in a panel discussion that will focus on professional matters and inter-military cooperation,” the IDF said.

Israel maintains a multi-tiered air defense system that is designed to protect the country’s strategic assets from aerial attack.

An Iron Dome anti-missile battery is seen near the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on December 27, 2014. (Flash90)

The lowest layer is the Iron Dome system, capable of intercepting short-range rockets, small unmanned aerial vehicles and mortar shells like those that have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip or from southern Lebanon.

The middle tier is made up of David’s Sling, which is meant to defend against missiles like the Iranian Fateh 110 and its Syrian equivalent, the M600, both of which have seen extensive use in the Syrian civil war and are known to be in the Hezbollah terrorist group’s arsenal.

At the top are the Patriot, Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems, which are intended to engage long-range ballistic missiles. The Patriot has also been used on a number of occasions against incoming aircraft.

Last July, the Patriot system shot down a Syrian fighter jet that traveled two kilometers into Israeli airspace, the military said.

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