Ballistic missiles and rockets were introduced to the Middle East military balance as early as the 1960’s with the proliferation of Russian armaments in pro-Soviet Arab states of the time, mainly Egypt, Syria and Iraq. The spread of rockets and missile was accelerated by the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s and by the ascent of Palestinian “resistance” militias conducting guerrilla and terror campaigns against Israel and other pro-Western states.
Missiles and rockets are particularly significant as asymmetric weapons against Western-equipped military forces. Their mobility and small logistic footprint makes them much harder to pre-empt than conventional air forces. Unlike air power which can be engaged by readily available and highly evolved air defense systems, no technology has existed until recently that could engage and destroy rockets and missiles in flight. Hence, rockets and missiles provided both assured delivery and survivability, negating the superiority of conventional ground and air forces. This made them the weapons of choice of terror and guerrilla organizations as well as to countries that had political difficulties in modernizing its air power, such as Iran.
Once military technology provided the capability to develop specialized missile defense weapons, their development was expedited by concerned nations, mainly the US and Israel, later followed by other countries in Europe and Asia. Missile Defense was first introduced to the Middle East in the 1991 Gulf War and the barely developed Patriot PAC 2 systems were deployed against Saddam Hussein’s upgraded Scud ballistic missiles, with a noticeable lack of success. Israel commenced deploying is it’s indigenously developed missile defense systems in the early 2000’s. Its anti-rocket defense system, the Iron Dome, saw extensive combat use against rockets launched from Gaza.
The presentation will review the history of missile defense in the Middle East from Israel’s perspective and will outline the lessons from its use in combat since 1991.
About the Speaker:
Uzi Rubin was the founder and first Director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization in the Israel Ministry of Defense (MOD), in which capacity he initiated and managed the Israel’s nation-wide effort to develop, produce and deploy its first national missile defense program, the Arrow weapon system. He led the Arrow program from its inception in 1991 to the first delivery of operational missiles in 1999.
He received his ME in Aeronautical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1969 and subsequently directed advanced programs in Israel Aerospace Industries and the Israel MOD. In 1990 as a visiting scholar in the Stanford Center for International Security and Arms Control he directed a major study on missile proliferation. Between 1999 and 2001 he was the Senior Director for Proliferation and Technology in the Israel National Security Council. He received the Israel Defense Prize in 1996 and again in 2003. In the year 2000 he was awarded the MDA David Israel Prize for achievements in missile defense.
Uzi Rubin has retired from Israel’s MOD at the end of 2002 and has since been heading his own defense consultancy, Rubincon Ltd. He publishes frequently in the professional and international media on missile threats and missile defense. He is an associate researcher in the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University.