The Israeli navy will install missiles on its patrol boats, in order to protect off shore natural gas infrastructure, reported Ha’aretz daily, a reliable Israeli daily.
Although the report hasn’t divulged on the missiles’ operating system, the missiles themselves will be taken from the Iron Dome system, a mobile system capable of intercepting short aerial objects, including short range rockets. The missiles will be installed on Saar 5, an Israeli patrol boat.
The Iron Dome system was designed to intercept short range rockets such as those used by Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza Strip. Last week the chief of Israel’s National Security Council, revealed that Hamas attempted to shoot at Israel’s natural gas infrastructure, during operation Protective Edge, in the summer of 2014, but missed because the weapons were not sophisticated enough. However, he added that now Hamas is in possession of more sophisticated weapons.
The Iron Dome system was developed in the last few years by Israeli companies and its interception ability was proven during the 2014 Protective Edge operation, in which it is assumed that about 90% of all launches were successful, i.e. destroyed the rockets that were targeted at civilians and other targets.
The Iron Dome is a mobile short range anti rocket system and became operational in 2011. By late October 2014, the system had intercepted 1,200 rockets. However so far the Iron Dome was operated only from land and operating it from sea will set new challenges to its developers. Iron Dome installation on the patrol boats is a filling the gap step until the arrival of new battle ships, Saar 6 model, that are expected to enter service in the Israeli navy around 2019. Those boats will be equipped with Barak 8 system, an anti-missile system.
According to the report, the Israeli navy also plans to increase intelligence gathering in areas around the rigs and also to buy satellite hours from private satellite operators in order to enhance its intelligence gathering capabilities.
“We must ensure that the gas will continue to flow. There is no other option because there is no redundancy and there are no other energy reserves,” a navy officer was quoted by Ha’aretz. The officer also supported the approval of the natural gas regulatory framework and said that the delay in its implementation already enabled the IDF to improve its preparations.