Israel's GEM fleet stems from a $100 million contract awarded by the
U.S. Defense Department to Raytheon in May 2007. The contract was said to
have included the conversion of PAC-2 interceptors for Israel and the U.S.
"GEM-T missiles are PAC-2 missiles that are refurbished and modernized
at Raytheon's Integrated Air Defense Center, Andover, Mass.," Raytheon said.
"Through the upgrade process, older components are replaced, new technology
inserted and reliability increased."
In 2003, the Air Force's Patriot battery was bolstered by exports from
Germany and the United States. Officials said they included the first GEM
capability, later expanded in Israeli programs with Patriot manufacturer
Israel first used PAC-2 in the 1991 war with Iraq. The 1970s-era system,
designed to down aircraft, failed to knock out any of the 42 Scud B missiles
fired by Iraq toward the Jewish state.
Raytheon completed the GEM+ system for the U.S. Army in 2002. The
interceptors were fired during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the
system underwent another upgrade three years later.
The Israel Air Force has never fired GEM+ in wartime. In 2006, the air
force placed the Patriot on alert to track Iranian-origin unmanned aerial
vehicles used by Hizbullah to penetrate Israeli air space.
The GEM+ has been given the code name "Yahalom," or "diamond."
Officials said GEM was placed as the fourth element of a five-layer missile
"Yahalom is available today," Israel Air Defense Command chief Brig. Gen.
Doron Gavish said.
Raytheon has been working with Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
to build the David's Sling missile and rocket defense system. Officials said
David's Sling, expected to be completed by 2014, contained a higher
interception capability than GEM.