Northrop teams up with RADA in Israeli missile defense bid

Published 29 January 2007

Israel will choose a winning plan within a month, and so Northrop positions itself tactically by teaming up with a major Israeli defense company; Skyguard system uses a deuterium fluoride laser to shoot down rockets; RADA Electronics moves beyond avionics

One of the more vexing problem Israel has faced during the past four years was the primitive Qasam rockets which the Palestinians have been firing from the Gaza Strip at cities in southern Israel. During the July-August 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, a much more vivid demonstration was given as to what short-range rockets could do as Hezbollah fired nearly 3,000 Katyusha rockets into northern Israel (the Katyusha is much more advanced than the home-nade Qasam, but by today’s standards it is an unsopisticated weapon). The toll was modest — about fifty civilians were killed and a few hundred building damaged — but the psychological impact was incalculable, as was the eocnomic disruption entailed by one-third of the country coming to a stand-still.

Back in August, as the war was coming to an end, we reported on a developing relationship between Northrop Grumman and Israel to install the company’s Skyguard missile defense system. Israel’s immediate interest was to defend critical infrastructure facilities — oil refineries, chemical factories, fertilizer facilities — in and around the northern city of Haifa.

The Skyguard, which uses target-acquisition radar and a deuterium fluoride laser to detect and shoot down airborne projectiles at an initial cost between $150 and $200 million per unit, seemed ideal. There are, however, competitors, including Lockheed Martin’s Sky Shield radar guided rapid-fire gun system, and various missile based options proposed by RAFAEL, IAI, and IMI.

A government decision is due within a month, but Northrop is setting the table by teaming up with Netanya, Israel-based RADA Electronic Industries in an agreement to cooperate in installing the system — if in the end the Israeli government decides to purchase the Skyguard. (RADA is well-known in Israel and worldwide for its avionics systems, including flight data recorders and UAV guidance systems.) Under the agreement, RADA and Northrop will exchange technical data and technology and work together in the construction, installation, and operation of the system. The first Skyguard system could be deployed in Israel within eighteen months of date of order.

-read more in this company news release