By Arie Egozi
Tel Aviv. While the plan to form an Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) specialised ground-to-ground missile force is still on hold, the Israeli defence industries are upgrading their systems.
Two weeks ago a special test of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Long-Range Artillery Weapon System (LORA) surface – to–surface missile resulted in another round of talks about the planned force. At this point in time the Israeli Air Force (IAF) is still against the planned force, but another round of talks is underway.
The double test launch of the IAI-built LORA surface–to–surface missile sent a message that Israel can perform surgical attacks from civil vessels on almost any target in what Israel considers “hostile” areas mainly Iran.
The details are important in this very successful test. It was performed from a civil ship sailing in the Mediterranean Sea.
The test was carried out by IAI with help from the Israeli defence forces especially the Israeli navy.
LORA was exported to a number of countries. A major client for this system is Azerbaijan.
-Boaz Levy, IAI’s Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Systems, Missiles and Space Group
Last week’s test was held in the open sea, and included the launch of two long-range LORA missiles to a pre-defined hit point at sea. The complex trial included two scenarios to test and demonstrate LORA’s advanced capabilities. The first scenario involved a short-range launch to 90 km and the second to a long range of 400 km.
In its ground version, the weapon system was deployed on a ship in the open sea to comply with the safety requirements of trials of this type. The missile was launched from an operational system that comprises a command trailer and a ground launcher.
Under both scenarios, the missile was launched to its trajectory, navigated its course to the target, and hit it with utmost precision. According to IAI, both the weapon system and the missile successfully met all of the trials objectives. Given the COVID-19 restrictions, the trial was executed with a portable trial field and a capsule team, which managed the trial remotely.
Developed by IAI’s MALAM division, LORA is a sea-to-ground and ground-to-ground system which comprises a long-range ballistic missile, a unique launcher, a command and control system, and a ground and marine support system. The LORA system provides ballistic assault capabilities for multiple ranges with a precision level of 10 meters Circular Error Probable (CEP).
LORA is operational in some countries and others are showing interest. It is 5 meters long and has a diameter of 60 cm. It is armed with different types of warheads with an average weight of 200 kg.
Boaz Levy, IAI’s Executive Vice President (EVP) and General Manager of the systems, missiles and space group, said that the impressive results of the trial prove the system’s maturity and state-of-the-art capabilities.” Levy added, “I would like to thank Israel’s Navy, Air force, and Israeli Ministry of Defense for the collaboration and assistance in this trial.”
The LORA enables to attack targets at sea and on the ground. The installation of the launcher on a navy vessel according to Levy is simple.
In recent years the IDF evaluated a plan to establish a ground–to–ground missile force that will free the air force to longer range missions. Former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman was for the plan but political changes in Israel resulted in the freezing of that concept.
But sources say that in the new IDF’s multiyear plan there is a variation of the frozen plan- equipping ground forces, navy and air force with long range accurate missiles. The successful test of the LORA may boost the implementation of this plan.
The IDF has not specified its plans about the type of missiles that can perform such long range accurate attacks, but it is very likely that the very successful test will accelerate the implementation of the plan. The results will be the focus of the new round of deliberations.
– The author is an Israel-based freelance writer. He has served in Israeli Defense Forces.