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Air Defense: Magic Wand Passes First Test
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January 20, 2011: Israel has recently successfully tested its new Magic Wand anti-missile system. Designed to deal with long range (up to 250 kilometers) rockets, the system uses Stunner missiles (yet another development of the Israeli Python heat seeking air-to-air missile) to knock down incoming rockets and missiles. Stunner apparently came out of the work to develop the Spyder anti-aircraft missile.

Spyder is a mobile, short range system using, as many such systems do these days, air-to-air missiles. Spyder launchers (truck mounted, with four box like launch cells each) can carry either the Python 5 heat seeking missile (3.22 meters/ten feet long, 105 kg/231 pounds, with a range of 15 kilometers) or the Derby radar guided missile (3.6 meters/11.2 feet long, 122 kg/267 pounds, with a range of 65 kilometers). The Derby is actually a larger Python, with more fuel and a different guidance system. Stunner appears to be a slightly longer Spyder/Derby missile, with dual seekers in the nose.

Each Spyder system has four missile launcher trucks, a radar truck and a missile re-supply truck. Each system costs about $11 million. Spyder radar system has a maximum range of 100 kilometers. The missiles can hit targets as high as 28,000 feet and as low as 65 feet. With boosters (to increase speed at launch) and the right seekers, a modified Spyder could take down incoming long-range rockets. Magic Wand depends on longer range radars to get target location and speed information to the Spyder/Magic Wand launchers. Once launched, the Stunner is guided to the general location of the incoming rocket, until the Stunner onboard sensors pick it up, and then home in and destroy the long range rocket.

Stunner and Magic Wand are meant to complement the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, which can take down rockets with a range of up to 70 kilometers. Iron Dome has a unique feature in which the radar system computes where the incoming rocket will land. If the rocket will not hit an inhabited area, it will be ignored. Otherwise, an interceptor missile will be fired. Stunner will be used against larger rockets that will be aimed (by Syria or Hezbollah) at large urban areas, and these will almost always get a Stunner fired at them. This is part of the Magic Wand system for defending Israelis from rocket attacks. Magic Wand is expected to be ready for service in 2-3 years.

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