The Israeli navy successfully tested the firing of a Spike interceptor missile from an unmanned vessel off the coast of Ashdod on Tuesday.
It was the first such launch and it went well, hitting targets in a series of simulated attacks, according to the IDF.
The missile was launched from a remotely-controlled Protector vessel by Squadron 916, which patrols off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The missile system is reportedly capable of intercepting rocket-propelled grenades and other incoming projectiles.
“The firing test demonstrates Protector’s side array of capabilities and applications,” said Moshe Elazar, head of Rafael’s Land and Naval Systems Division, which manufacturers the missile system.
Referring to the navy’s responsibility to protect Israel’s ports and offshore natural gas installations, Elazar noted further that “these assets are vulnerable to sabotage or terrorism and the damage that can be inflicted can in some cases be catastrophic. Protector’s capabilities are a major force multiplier for navies, for detection, deterrence and finally neutralization of the threat.”
The Israeli navy has been using unmanned Protector and Sea Knight ships for some years now in patrolling operations along the coasts, but until now they have not carried such heavy weaponry.