On March 23, Israel’s defense ministry announced that the Sky Dew (Tal Shamayim) radar system, one of the world’s largest aerostats (lighter-than-air aircraft), had been operationally commissioned in a ceremony. The ministry went on to say that the detection systems defined as “Elevated Sensor” and “Sky Dew” are deployed at high altitudes to detect long-range missiles, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Israeli Air Force Commander, Major General Amikam Norkin, the head of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), Dr. Daniel Gold, the director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Jon Hill, and the head of the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), Moshe Fattal, were all present at the Sky Dew system’s delivery ceremony.
Major General Amikam Norkin, the Israeli Air Force Commander, remarked at the ceremony:
“The Air Force is facing significant challenges in the northern sector of the State of Israel, where we must be prepared for a variety of scenarios. The “Sky Dew” unit is a leap forward in the intensification of the air control system, and will enable the creation of a more accurate picture of the sky, make the Air Force more prepared and help further the Air Force’s mission – maintaining the security of the State of Israel.”
Due to the enhanced capabilities of drones and cruise missiles produced by Iran in order to strike Israel in Lebanon, Syria, and other regions in recent years, this system was developed in a joint effort by the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the United States Missile Defense Agency. The Aerostat System was developed and constructed by TCOM, a US company, while the airship’s advanced radar system was developed by ELTA, a division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), as part of the joint initiative.
The director of the Missile Defense Agency, Jon Hill, issued a statement on the subject, saying, “This project is another excellent example of the collaboration between the Missile Defense Agency and the director of the IMDO in Maf’at and the partner industries. Such technological developments benefit both countries.” He noted that “the Sky Dew system will improve the capabilities of the State of Israel in detecting advanced threats and will maintain Israel’s qualitative military advantage.”
The features of the new aerostat, which will be used to identify advanced air threats, have not been revealed by the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO). However, as compared to UAVs or manned aircraft, the Sky Dew platform’s major benefit for Israel will be its long-term surveillance at a low cost. The platform, which can stay in the air for days, uses non-flammable helium gas to stay aloft, saving fuel, maintenance, and other costs. In addition, the platform and the ground station have secure data transmission capabilities, thanks to a connection cable between them.