Why Israel conceit of its Iron Dome

iron dome

Israeli iron dome is considered the world’s effective defense system for intercepting missiles & Arab nations also develop ballistic missiles

Introduction:

Iron Dome is a short-ranged, surface-to-air defense system. It includes a Tamir intercepting missile and a radar. However, the Tamir interceptor missiles track and neutralize any rocket heading towards Israel. Despite rockets, it can intercept mortars, artillery, and all kinds of aircraft.

Background:

Since the beginning of Israel, it has encountered threats from its neighboring Arab countries. The escalation in clashes led to a point where Israel needed a reliable defence system to intercept the threats from skies (rockets or cannon rounds). This urge to defend its skies and lands led to the development of an unmanned active retaliating missile system.

Whereas neighboring Arab nations are continuously advancing to develop a variety of ballistic missiles and long range rockets . To compete with its historic adversaries Israel and its allies developed an Iron Dome named unmanned active retaliation missile system. 

The idea to create a system for defense dates back to 2006, when a full-scale war erupted between Israel and Lebanon. Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into Israeli airspace causing damage to its infrastructure.

However, in the same year, Rafael company (an Israeli defense company) and aerospace industries announced that it would come up with a superior and effective defense system to defend the airspace of its cities and citizens.

Today the security of Israeli skies is vastly reliant on the Iron Dome.

(Tweet video by Ares.today’s about iron dome)

How it was developed: 

Missile threats are not confined to a specific geographical region or any particular rocket type. So, the United States and Israel collaborated and instigated the development of the Iron Dome project in 2011. The idea was to develop multilayered missile defense equipment to precisely counter the threats from the skies. 

Furthermore, back in early 2017, the IDF (Israeli defense force) began integrating a siren as a warning system for incoming projectiles. However, in 2018 the US government spent a record-high $705 million in funding earmarked for Israel’s defense systems.

This infographics depicts the expenditure of funds by Israel
This infographics depicts the expenditure of funds by Israel

Iron Dome is considered one of the world’s advanced defense systems. However, Iron Dome proved itself to be a multipurpose defense system as it has an early warning, passive defense, and counter striking capabilities.

Iron Dome’s mystique:

According to Rafael, the success rate of Iron Dome is over 90%, with 2000 plus interceptions. However, according to defense analysts and experts, the accuracy of the Iron Dome is around 80%. 

Additionally, Rafael stated on their website that their defense system (Iron Dome) could aid in protecting maneuvering and stationary troops; furthermore, it can defend FOB (Forward Operating Base) and urban areas against numerous ranges of direct or indirect aerial attacks.

Iron Dome is hoped to intercept the threats ranging from 43 miles (70km) to 160 miles (250 km) radius. Furthermore, it can intercept its targets coming from two different directions simultaneously.

Earlier this week, the total number of rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza was 3,150, out of which 90% were intercepted and destroyed successfully before reaching its target.

Thanks to the Iron Dome’s early alarm, Radar and anti-air missile batteries caused only 12 Israeli lives to suffer. Whereas, the Gaza strip without a similar defense system faced torment in the form of 213 lives during air raids carried out by the Israeli air force (A statement by the Health ministry of Gaza).

A retired air marshal Anil Chopra, who is a head to CAPS (Center for Air Power Studies) in New Delhi, had explained that nearly every air defense system consist of two core elements 

  • Radar: should be capable of identifying the smallest objects and should be able to track them constantly. 

Furthermore, he said that usually, there are two to three radars in any air defense system to spot and track incoming threats. Once a missile is launched, the tracking radar will aid the weapon to strike or reach its desired target.

  • Missile: According to him, the missiles should be capable of maneuvering and should be able to see the target on its own to follow it and shoot properly. 

However, it’s a rare sighting to hit a target with a bullseye that’s why there is an installation of a proximity fuse which is a laser-controlled fuse. This fuse activates the detonation when it reaches a range of 10 meters of the target. 

He further added by saying that the warhead explodes to cover up a target completely with its shrapnel and neutralize it.

How is it commissioning?

Iron Dome works on the same principles discussed above. 

The Iron dome consists of three layers/parts; these layers are responsible for countering and destroying a potential aerial threat. 

  1. A detection Radar
  2. A BMC (battle management and weapon control system)
  3. The Missile System 

The BMC is commissioned to liaise between the Radar and the interceptor missiles. 

However, this aerial raid defense system can work in any weather condition and is active 24/7.

Furthermore, there are different approaches through which the interceptor missiles approach its target. The way it approaches matters critically in destroying or disarming the threat. However, a minor distance, delayed detonation or wrong approach can cast devastating effects. The infographic below shows the three different approaches with which an interceptor disarms an approaching threat.

These are few approaches that decide the disarming/destruction of an incoming threat
These are few approaches that decide the disarming/destruction of an incoming threat

Variants of Air defenses procured and used by Israel:

The Infographics below will depict the types of air defenses produced or were obtained by Israel during different times . 

The above infographics displays 3 different types of anti air systems procured by Israel
The above infographics displays 3 different types of anti air systems procured by Israel 

Counterparts of Iron Dome:

The advancement in technology led every country and defense industry to develop trailblazing ideas to overcome the need for air defense from their adversary’s raids. 

The instigation of the competition to become stronger and invincible led the powerful countries to mark their name in history with some astonishing air defense weaponry.

  • Iron Dome ( Israel )
  • S-400 ( Russian )
  • Patriot Missile ( USA )
  • HQ-9 ( China )


Iron Dome: Developed by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems(RADS) and Israel Aerospace Industries. This system is designed to intercept and disarm short-ranged rockets and artillery shells. It was deployed and declared operational on 27th March 2007.

However, its first successful interceptions were carried out on 10th March 2012 when it shot down BM-21 Grad missiles fired from Gaza.

The significant modules of the Iron dome are 

  1. Detection and tracking radar
  2. BMC(Battle Management Control)
  3. Missile firing Unit

S-400: An S-400 is a Russian-manufactured anti-aircraft weapon. It was developed in the 1990s by Almaz Central Design Bureau to upgrade the version of the S-300 family. It was commissioned by the Russian military back in 2007.

However, the S-400 has immense market sales and is popular amongst the countries known to have stronger militaries. The 1st buyer of the S-400 was China back in 2014. Whereas Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, and India are amongst the list of S-400’s buyers too.

However, in 2017 the S-400 was declared one of the best air defense systems. Furthermore, Siemon Wezeman of SIPRIS (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) said it “is among the most advanced air defense systems available. 

The S-400 working can be enhanced by coordinating with different battle vehicles and radar systems. Typically the 1516ME-98H6E missiles are used with the assistance of a 96L6E class radar vehicle. However, the 96L6E has a range of 250miles (400km)

Patriot Missile:  The ADA(Air Defence Artillery) is responsible for anti-aircraft weapon production for the US army. The most famous defense system for US air defense are 

  1. Patriot Missile System
  2. Terminal High Altitude Air Defence
  3. Avenger Air Defence System

A Patriot missile system is called MIM-104 Patriot, it is a surface-to-air missile system and is considered one of its kind system procured by the US army. Raytheon in the US manufactures it. 

The Patriot air defence system is a result of SAM-D (Surface to Air Missile Development) efforts. However, the SAM-D was a name given to AADS (Army Air Defence Systems) back in the 1970s. During the year 1975, SAM-D experimented with an air defense system by shooting down a drone at White sands Missile range. 

The Patriot missile system is a combination of several new technologies e.g

  1. Phased array radar
  2. Track-via-missile guidance

Its development was initiated in 1976 and was commissioned in 1984 for the first time. The Patriot was initially used just like an normal air defense system, but during July 1988, it was upgraded to become capable as a TBM (Tactical Ballistic Missiles) as PAC-1 (Patriot Advanced Capability-1)

HQ-9: The HQ-9 can intercept both mid-range to long-range surface-to-air targets. The HQ-9 can be said to be an identical twin to Russian S-300 and American Patriot systems. It uses the HT-233 PESA radar system.

However, there is another variant for HQ-9, which is specially designed for naval defense purposes; this variant is called HHQ-9 and is commissioned by PLAN(Public Liberation Army Navy) in Type 052C Lanzhou class destroyer in VLS(Vertical Launching System) launch tubes.

Furthermore, there is an upgraded anti-radiation variant of HQ-9 known as FT-2000 and FD-2000, which are available for export to other militaries around the globe.

However, the Chinese HQ-9 is the same as the S-300V, using a two-stage missile. Its missile is armed with a 180 kg of warhead and can approach approximately 124 miles (200 km). The HQ-9 could be equipped with various kinds of radars to overcome the increasing cost issues e.g

  1. HT-233 radar
  2. FCT (Fire Control Radar)
  3. Type 305B radar
  4. Search radar
  5. Type 120 radar
  6. YLC-20 Passive sensor e.t.c
This infographic displays the comparison between various world class air defence systems
This infographic displays the comparison between various world class air defence systems

Yes But:

Defense analysts are keenly observing data since 2014 about the effectiveness of the Iron Dome. However, the results gathered from these observations depict that the performance of the iron dome is the same as before, with no further improvements in it.

Apparently, according to some analysts, the current escalation between Hamas and Israel depicted Iron Dome as an effective weapon against the salvo of rockets fired from the Gaza strip. However, these rockets of Hammas aren’t advanced and are inaccurate. 

The interception rate by Iron Dome is still ambiguous as it has never been tested against modern/advanced missile systems. 

However, numerous defense analysts claim that the recent attacks by Hammas are an attempt to overwhelm the system (Iron Dome) with more rocket barrages than ever. Hamas claims that it has fired a volley of somewhat 2000 rockets, which caused many rockets to pass through the Iron Dome’s defence. 

Furthermore, the Tamir Missiles supply is finite and costly, and the recent claims by Hammas about their arsenal of missiles and mortars instigating a complex set of events for Iron Dome. According to an Israeli intelligence report, Hamas has piled up more than 30,000 rockets and mortars in its arsenal.

However, each launcher consists of 20 Tamir missiles having a weight of 200 pounds each with a striking range of 40 kms. Most of the time, Iron Dome needs to fire two missiles against one threat to ensure its disarming. If the Iron dome runs out of interceptors, then the casualties rate will spike up at a frantic pace. 

Besides this, a single Tamir missile costs between $20,000 to $100,000. Whereas the rockets produced and used by Hammas weigh between 80 to 100 pounds and range 2 to 3 miles. 

The infographics about the significant differences between Israel’s Tamir missile and its adversary Hamas’s rockets.
The infographics about the significant differences between Israel’s Tamir missile and its adversary Hamas’s rockets. 

Bottom line:

The race to procure and develop an advanced, accurate, and cost-cutting air defense system seems to be endless. The countries and their rivalries will constantly build something more advanced and upgraded. The recent turmoil that erupted between Israel and Hamas can be secured as a great example to it.  

However, no such air defense system is 100% reliable or accurate. Still, the trait that makes the military or country more reliant on Iron Domet is its maximum interception rate of incoming missiles, planes, or artillery shells. 

No wonder Hamas’ rocket barrage did overwhelm the Israeli Air defense system, but the percentage with which Iron Dome retaliated towards it was astonishing.

However, there are still few points to ponder, many loopholes that are needed to be covered and are causing a spike for unanswered questions e.g.

  1. How many more aerial attacks could be defended by Iron Dome?
  2. What if Hammas or any other armed groups or forces come up with more salvos (double time than 2021 escalations) of rockets and artillery soon?
  3. How would Iron Dome have retaliated if it faced a missile barrage of advanced technology?
  4.  Would Iron Dome be able to besiege a volley of guided or stealth missiles?
  5. Is Iron Dome only capable of destroying lower grade or obsolete technology-based rockets? E.t.c
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