Israel Retires Patriot Missiles Shifts To Domestic Air Defense

Israel Retires Patriot Missiles Shifts To Domestic Air Defense

After four decades of service defending Israeli airspace, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is retiring its American-made Patriot air defense missile batteries. The venerable Patriot systems are being replaced by Israel’s increasingly capable array of domestically-developed air defense technologies.

The IDF announced the Patriot’s retirement on Tuesday, highlighting the growing roles of the Iron Dome, Arrow, and David’s Sling missile defense layers. These indigenous systems proved their worth recently, helping counter Iranian missile and drone attacks with assistance from US, British, French and Jordanian forces.

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Israel originally acquired the Patriot systems in 1991 during the Gulf War to defend against Iraqi Scud missiles. The road-mobile Patriot batteries intercepted their first targets in 2014, downing drones from Gaza. They went on to make 19 interceptions, including 9 during the latest conflict.

End of an Era

The Patriot achieved a major milestone in 2018 when it shot down a Syrian Su-24 fighter jet, the first air-to-air kill of a Soviet-made aircraft by the system. An Israeli officer who worked on the Patriot expressed “mixed feelings” about its retirement after decades of service.

While requiring US approval to export or sell the American-made Patriots, Israel is unlikely to transfer them to Ukraine amid the ongoing war with Russia according to analysts. This would risk escalating tensions with Moscow and prompting Russian retaliation against Israeli interests in Syria and Iran.

Integrated Air Defense

Israel’s multi-layered air defenses integrate several advanced systems focused on different threats. Iron Dome protects against short-range rockets and missiles, while David’s Sling covers theater ballistic and cruise missiles.

The Arrow system, developed jointly with the US, is designed to defeat long-range ballistic missile threats. Both Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 variants saw considerable action during the recent six-month conflict with Hamas and Iranian proxies.

Looking ahead, Israel plans to deploy new laser-based air defenses by 2025 to defeat short-range threats like mortars and drones. It is also advancing ship-based defenses like C-Dome demonstrated on its new Sa’ar 6 corvettes.

As traditional threats evolve and new ones emerge, Israel is accelerating its shift from vintage foreign systems to an integrated, indigenously-produced suite of air and missile defenses. The retirement of the trusted Patriot marks the end of an era and the emergence of a new age in protective capabilities.

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