By now, you’ve probably seen a handful of videos of the Iron Dome circulating on the Internet: dark skies, coupled with balls of light colliding with each other – like some alien space battle, or a terrifying fireworks display, paired by air raid sirens – just like the London Bombings of WW2.
Introducing Israel’s missile defense system that’s been keeping the country safe from hostile short-range rockets. After more than a week of intense fighting between Hamas and Israel, the extensive use of this “shield” has once again caught the world’s headlines.
The venerable system has been around for a decade, developed with heavy funding and technical backing from the USA. It’s proven to be 90% effective at blocking short-range Qassam rockets typically used by the militant groups in the region.
The bloodshed began when the militants fired rockets at Jerusalem after Palestinian protesters clashed with the local police at a site sacred to both faiths. Since then, Hamas and its supporters have launched over 2,800 missiles at Israel, hitting random targets deep within the Jewish state. The Israelis have countered by shooting them down and retaliating with airstrikes.
The defense system that tracks and destroys the incoming missiles is known for its accuracy and efficiency. It uses the latest radar tech and its own set of missiles to track and destroy incoming missiles, keeping Hamas’ rocket attacks at bay.
What’s With The Iron Dome? Here’s What We Know About The System.
Israel’s Iron Dome was first deployed in 2011. It was developed and maintained with billion-dollar U.S. funding. Moreover. it’s proven to be 85% to 90% effective in taking down short to mid-range rockets that Hamas fired at the Israeli population this week, according to sources.
How Does It Work?
The system consists of three parts: the radar, the battery system, and the interceptor. Once the hostile projectile is detected, information is processed for the missile battery system. From there, the battery system calculates the rocket’s speed and trajectory to direct the interceptor towards it. The interceptor, which is equipped with a proximity fuze, then locks on to the target and explodes once it’s within range.
The Iron Dome can detect targets for up to 70 km away. The Tamir interceptor, which weighs 91 kilos, relies on electro-optical sensors to reach the incoming rocket before exploding. It is said that an Iron Dome battery can protect a 150 square kilometer urban area.
According to Raytheon Technologies, each Tamir costs $100,000. Since the deployment is scattered, the system is housed in a mobile battery. A typical battery holds three to four launchers, with each containing 20 missiles. According to Middle East Eye, the system has received more than $225 million in funding during the Obama administration.
Israeli military officials say that Iron Dome can now hit other kinds of targets, such as drones. At the time of writing, three drones have already been taken down.
Is The Iron Dome The Only System Israel Is Using Against Such Attacks?
Israel also has other kinds of interceptors such as the Arrow missile system and Patriot missile system. These two are designed to counter larger threats and their missiles can fly even longer distances.
How Effective Is The Iron Dome?
The Israeli military and its maker, Rafael systems, claim the Iron Dome has a 90% success rate and has recently been upgraded with even better technology to deal with evolving threats, such as intercepting salvos of missiles and rockets, and drones.
The upgrades are evident from what occurred within the past week. However, a system that’s capable of taking down nine out of 10 rockets might be less effective when rockets will be fired in hundreds or even thousands, all at the same time.
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