Head of missile defense program fired over security breach
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Head of missile defense program fired over security breach

Yair Ramati committed ‘severe information security violations’ Defense Ministry says

A test of the David's Sling missile defense system (Defense Ministry)
A test of the David's Sling missile defense system (Defense Ministry)

The prize-winning, highly respected head of Israel’s burgeoning missile defense program was booted from his post amid allegations that he improperly maintained state secrets, the Defense Ministry said Sunday.

Yair Ramati, who was responsible for developing Israel’s Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile defense systems, committed “severe information security violations,” according to the ministry. “Going further, the case will be handled by the relevant authorities.”

As a result, “he cannot continue to hold his position at the Defense Ministry,” according to a statement.

Officials gave no specific information as to what Ramati did to prompt his dismissal. However, media reports suggested he was found to have classified documents on his personal computer.

On Monday, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported that the defense establishment was investigating the possibility that information on Ramati’s home computer had “leaked.” It said the shock decision to fire him “went all the way up to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.”

Director of Israel's missile defense program Yair Ramati, left, during a presentation, 2014. (Screen capture: YouTube/TAUVOD)
Director of Israel’s missile defense program Yair Ramati, left, during a presentation, 2014. (Screen capture: YouTube/TAUVOD)

There was no initial comment from Ramati.

The surprise move came after a month that saw two new successes in the missile programs under Ramati’s purview.

On December 10, the Arrow 3 interballistic missile defense system passed its first full test, downing a target in space. The system is slated to replace the Arrow 2 defense array.

A week later, Ramati announced that the David’s Sling system, meant to protect against medium-range threats, had finished the testing phase and would begin to be deployed by the Israeli Air Force.

Ramati has worked on Israel’s missile program since 1981, after he left the military. He headed the Homa missile defense directorate within the Defense Ministry since 2012.

In 2003, he won the Israel Defense Prize for work in developing the Arrow 2 program.

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