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CNN Today

Israel to Activate New Defense Shield

Aired March 16, 2000 - 2:19 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The Israelis say they're about to activate a new defense shield that will protect their country and its people from enemy attacks.

CNN's Jerusalem bureau chief Walter Rodgers has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALTER RODGERS, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The Israelis are tooting their horns. The reason? They say they have developed and are about the deploy a star wars-type defense system that will shoot down incoming enemy ballistic missiles. The Arrow II is a joint U.S.-Israeli project with more than half the $2 billion price paid for by Washington, according to U.S. officials. The U.S. benefits from shared research.

Although never tested in combat, Israeli officials say their anti-ballistic missile system is pretty good.

GEN. YITZHAK BEN YISRAEL, WEAPONS DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: It gives you another layer in a system of layers, which altogether can give an answer, especially by reducing the number of leaking missiles through the defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ISRAEL AIRCRAFT INDUSTRIES VIDEO)

ANNOUNCER: At a close distance, the Arrow's warhead activates, spewing forth hundreds of lethal metal fragments, destroying the incoming missile.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RODGERS: But what if a potential enemy were to fire decoys or maneuverable warheads.

PAUL BEAVER, "JANE'S DEFENCE WEEKLY": I think there's always a problem that if somebody can launch a large number of missiles, then some will get through.

RODGERS: After absorbing 39 SCUD missiles from Iraq during the Gulf War, Israel launched its own star wars problem. Now besides Iraq, Israelis are worried about Iran's ballistic missile: the Shehob 3 (ph). BEAVER: Shehop 3 could well have a terminal velocity which is greater than that on which the radar cuing system of the Israelis are capable of picking up and accurately cuing a missile to.

RODGERS (on camera): The Arrow may not yet be a seamless ballistic missile defense, but in Israeli, where security and survival are foremost in everyone's mind, the psychological value of even a less than perfect ballistic missile defense is difficult to overstate.

Walter Rodgers, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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