JERUSALEM – South Korea is interested in buying the Israeli short-range rocket interceptor Iron Dome, its manufacturer said on Sunday.
Iron Dome, which uses guided missiles to shoot down the Katyusha-style rockets favoured by Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas, has scored around a 90 per cent success rate in the month-old Gaza war, Israeli officials and U.S. observers say.
Yedidia Yaari, CEO of Iron Dome’s state-owned manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd., said the system’s performance had fuelled foreign interest in buying it, including by South Korea, which is in an armed standoff with North Korea.
“It is very worried not only about rockets, but other things as well ... You can certainly include them in the club of interested countries,” Yaari told Israel’s Army Radio, saying Rafael representatives had visited Seoul to promote Iron Dome.
Yaari did not give details on how advanced such a deal with South Korea may be. Rafael has not made public any foreign sales so far, saying it was giving priority to supplying Iron Domes to Israel, which has fielded nine out of a planned total of 12 interceptor units.
Washington has extensively funded the Israeli deployment and supplies of interceptor missiles. Defence industry sources estimate that each Iron Dome battery costs around US$50 million (S$62.6 million) and each interceptor missile between US$30,000 and US$50,000.
Also participating in Iron Dome’s production are Israeli defence contractors Elisra Group and Israel Aerospace Industries The system uses some components made by U.S. defence contractor Raytheon Co.