Israel’s ‘Sky Dew’ defense: massive balloons at high altitudes

Tethered balloons at high altitudes will boost the IDF’s early warning systems.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

After several years of development and production, the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) has begun testing an Elevated Sensor system designed to detect incoming threats, called ‘Tal Shamayim’ (Sky Dew in Hebrew).

The defense system is comprised of a High Availability Aerostat-borne System and advanced radar. It will operate at high altitudes, providing detection and early warning capabilities for threats emerging from the north.

The IMDO, Israel Air Force (IAF) and Israeli defense company ELTA Systems commenced on Wednesday of the inflation of the airborne system, and initial testing for the deployment of the Elevated Sensor system in northern Israel.

This radar system was developed under a cooperative program between IMDO and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

ELTA explained that the advantages of tethered aerial systems include the ability to elevate in a matter of seconds and stay in the air for an unlimited period of time since the electric power supply remains on the ground.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz congratulated the participating bodies on “another technological breakthrough that will strengthen the defense of Israel’s skies and Israeli citizens.”

“The success of the new system fortifies the wall of defense that Israel has built in the face of the distant and imminent air threats being built by its enemies. Through the detection capabilities, and the multi-layered defense system, Israel’s advantage in the area will be preserved, and the operational scope required to maintain its security will be enabled,” he added.

The ‘Sky Dew’ system, which includes the air platform developed by the American company TCOM, and the advanced radar system from the ELTA development of the aerospace industry, will provide the complementary capability to the detection system and the IAF air defense systems.

Israel over the years has developed a multi-layered defense system to contend with the ever-evolving ballistic projectile threat from Iran, the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon, which includes the Iron Dome system for close-range threats, David’s Sling for mid-range threats, and the Arrow systems for long-range threats.