During the Gaza offensive, which ended on January 18, teams collected data on how the homemade rockets and the military-grade Katyushas fired by Gaza terrorists behaved in different weather conditions, as well as how they were picked up by Iron Dome's radar, which is already on-line, the officials said.
With the public clamoring for a solution to the rockets, the Israeli government decided in 2007 to invest more than $200 million to create a high-tech answer. Iron Dome is under development by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., the government's weapons subsidiary.
The system will work by picking up incoming rockets and firing an interceptor. Iron Dome has been criticized by some experts because of its cost - each interceptor will cost between $30,000 and $40,000 - and because it needs 15 seconds to respond, too long to stop rockets from hitting targets adjacent to Gaza. Iron Dome's first intercept test is slated for the end of 2009.
Several new Israeli combat systems were used in battle for the first time during the Gaza offensive.
Two Namer vehicles, armored personnel carriers based on the Israeli-made Merkava IV tank, were used by Golani Brigade infantrymen, the officials said. The Namer, which is only beginning to enter service, is slated to eventually replace the 1960s-era US M-113 vehicles still used by most Israeli infantry units.
Several Israeli tanks were fitted with the Wind Coat, a new system that detects anti-tank rockets and intercepts them in midair. Though mounted on tanks during the fighting, the system was not actually fired, the officials said.
The Wind Coat was developed after Hizbullah fired advanced Russian-made anti-tank rockets that took a high toll on Israeli armor during the Second Lebanon War. But Hamas fighters lacked Hizbullah's arsenal and largely avoided head-on confrontations with IDF forces.
No Israeli armored vehicles were destroyed during the recent round of violence in Gaza.