Israel will test an early warning system in Ukraine next month, Axios reported on Thursday. While the system is reportedly more capable than Ukraine’s existing missile detection technology, it cannot stop incoming fire.
Israeli military officers met with their Ukrainian counterparts in Poland several times in recent months to arrange the trial, Axios reported, citing officials from Kiev and Tel Aviv. The trial will take place in Kiev, and if successful, be expanded to other Ukrainian cities.
Several versions of the system have been active in Israel since 2005. According to a report in the Times of Israel, it “uses a mix of radar and electro-optic devices to detect rocket, missile, and drone launches, classify the size and the threat they represent, and pinpoint on a map the areas that are in danger.” Residents of these areas then receive smartphone, TV, or radio alerts advising them to seek shelter.
Axios’ sources said that the system will need to be tweaked to account for Ukraine’s vast land area compared to Israel, and to detect the missiles and drones used by Russian forces, which are far more advanced than the Qassam rockets used by Palestinian militants.
In Israel, incoming rockets are more often than not destroyed by Iron Dome air defense batteries. The system on its way to Ukraine will offer no such interception capabilities, as the Israeli government officially refuses to supply offensive weapons to Kiev.
Former Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz explicitly rejected requests by Kiev to send Iron Dome systems to Ukraine last October, offering the warning system in their stead. Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has maintained this stance, with Netanyahu explaining last month that the situation in Syria – where Israeli pilots depend on communication with their Russian counterparts to carry out airstrikes – prevents any change to the status quo.
While the Israeli system will give Ukrainian forces greater warning of incoming strikes, recently leaked Pentagon documents claim that the country is rapidly running out of anti-air missiles to counter them with.
According to a US Department of Defense report dated February 28, Ukraine was set to run out of Buk anti-air missiles by the end of last week, and will expend its stockpile of S-300 missiles by early May. Although Kiev has received a number of Western-made systems – such as American Patriot and German Iris-T batteries – in place of this Soviet-era hardware, it has not gotten enough to cover the shortfall.
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