Rafael Advanced Defense Systems

  • Location
    Haifa; Yodefat
  • Type
    Missile-Research and Development
  • Facility Status
    Operational

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The Israeli government established the Science Corps, precursor to Rafael, in 1948 as a research and design lab for the Israel Defense Forces. The Science Corps was reorganized in 1958, at which time it became an autonomous company with the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and took on the name Rafael. 1 Due to its close relationship with the MOD, Rafael has been and remains involved in the research, design, and production of many innovative national defense technologies.

Production

Rafael produces cruise missiles in the Popeye family. It began developing the AGM-142, or Popeye-1, in the early 1980s as a medium-range air-to-surface television-guided cruise missile. 2 The Popeye-2 Have Lite is a lighter and smaller variant. 3 Rafael proposed the Popeye-3 or Popeye Turbo to the United Kingdom in 1994, a variant possessing a turbo-jet engine, folding wings, and a maximum range of over 200km. 4 The United Kingdom selected an alternative cruise missile to the Popeye Turbo, whose current status is unclear. 5 Jane’s reports that the design of the Popeye Turbo may have been altered in order to provide Dolphin-class submarines with a strategic strike capability. 6 Rafael exports Popeye cruise missiles to a handful of countries, including Australia, Turkey, India, and South Korea. 7

Missile Defense

Rafael plays a significant role in Israel’s ABM industry, including by producing the warheads for the Arrow II interceptors. 8 Rafael and American defense contractor Raytheon co-produce Stunner terminal missile defense interceptors, which operate within the larger David’s Sling System, (a.k.a. Magic Wand or Mini-Arrow). Still under development, David’s Sling has an anticipated deployment date of 2013. 9

Rafael is the main contractor for the Iron Dome missile defense system, whose purpose is to destroy short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, rockets, and armed UAV fired from a range of 40km to 70km. 10 Jane’s asserts that the Israeli government has ordered thirteen Iron Dome batteries, 11 with the Israel Missile Defense Association reporting an expected deployment date of mid-2010. 12

Rafael also manufactures surrogate ballistic missile targets, known as “Black Sparrow” and “Blue Sparrow,” that simulate the flight patterns of ballistic missiles. The “Black Sparrow” targets represent short-range theater ballistic missiles such as the SCUD-B, while the “Blue Sparrow” targets mimic medium-range threats such as the SCUD-C/D. 13 The Arrow Missile Defense System uses both types of Sparrow targets in its simulation exercises. 14

Glossary

Cruise missile
An unmanned self-propelled guided vehicle that sustains flight through aerodynamic lift for most of its flight path. There are subsonic and supersonic cruise missiles currently deployed in conventional and nuclear arsenals, while conventional hypersonic cruise missiles are currently in development. These can be launched from the air, submarines, or the ground. Although they carry smaller payloads, travel at slower speeds, and cover lesser ranges than ballistic missiles, cruise missiles can be programmed to travel along customized flight paths and to evade missile defense systems.
Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM)
A missile designed to be launched from an aircraft and jet-engine powered throughout its flight. As with all cruise missiles, its range is a function of payload, propulsion, and fuel volume, and can thus vary greatly. Under the START I Treaty, the term "long-range ALCM" means an air-launched cruise missile with a range in excess of 600 kilometers.

Sources

  1. Nisso Cohen, “The Israel High-Tech Industry - Fifty Years of Excellence,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 20 October 2002, www.mfa.gov.il/MFA.
  2. “AGM-142,” MissileThreat.com, 2 April 2010.
  3. “Popeye 1, 2 (AGM-142 Have Nap/Have Lite/Raptor),” Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, 28 April 2009.
  4. “Popeye 1, 2 (AGM-142 Have Nap/Have Lite/Raptor),” Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, 28 April 2009.
  5. “Popeye 1, 2 (AGM-142 Have Nap/Have Lite/Raptor),” Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, 28 April 2009.
  6. “Popeye 1, 2 (AGM-142 Have Nap/Have Lite/Raptor),” Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, 28 April 2009.
  7. “Popeye 1, 2 (AGM-142 Have Nap/Have Lite/Raptor),” Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, 28 April 2009.
  8. “Arrow Weapon System (AWS),” Jane’s Land-Based Air Defence, 11 November 2009.
  9. Yaakov Katz, “Israel puts its missile systems to the test,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 1 April 2010.
  10. Jeremy M. Sharp, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service, 4 December 2009, www.fas.org.
  11. “Iron Dome (Iron Cap),” Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems, 14 January 2010.
  12. “Iron Dome - In Development,” Israel Missile Defense Association, 23 April 2010, www.imda.org.il.
  13. “Sparrow Targets: Air-Launched Ballistic Targets,” Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., 30 March 2010, www.rafael.co.il.
  14. “Sparrow Targets: Air-Launched Ballistic Targets,” Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., 30 March 2010, www.rafael.co.il.

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