Senior official in missile development program quits post

Senior official in missile development program quits post

No reason given for Ofir Shoham’s departure, which ends 36-year military career and comes two months after other top official forced out

The Defense Ministry on Tuesday announced that the head of the agency heading up missile defense development would be stepping down after six years on the job, several weeks after another top official in the program was forced out over an unspecified security breach.

Ofir Shoham, head of the the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure department, submitted his resignation to the director of the ministry and IDF chief of staff, a statement from the Defense Ministry said.

He will officially leave the position sometime in 2016, after a replacement is secured and trained for the post.

No reason was given for Shoham’s sudden departure, which the ministry said would end his 36-year army career.

Ofir Shoham posing at a ceremony in 2012. (Flash90
Ofir Shoham posing at a ceremony in 2012. (Flash90

Under his leadership, the Iron Dome short-range missile defense system became operational, and the Arrow 3 long-range missile defense system successfully passed its first test, the ministry said.

Shoham, 53, also oversaw the launching of the Ofek-9 and Ofek-10 reconnaissance satellites.

In December, Yair Ramati, the prize-winning, highly respected head of Israel’s missile defense program, was booted from his post amid allegations that he improperly maintained state secrets.

However, a ministry spokesperson said there was “no connection between the two incidents.”

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 at the time.

“Going further, the case will be handled by the relevant authorities.”

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)

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.

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