In a number of trials Israel has successfully intercepted short-range rockets with its new defence system named “Iron Dome”, Defence Ministry officials said yesterday. The system, built by RAFAEL Armament Development Authority Ltd. in collaboration with ELTA Systems, a subsidiary of the Israel Aerospace Industry, is designed as an additional security layer to protect Israeli citizens against rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
According to the Ministry of Defence spokesman, the trials have confirmed theoretical research and simulations and, as such, were an important milestone in improving the nation's defence capabilities.
The live trials were carried out against the very same types of rockets that terror groups have been launching at Israeli civilians in the Gaza vicinity and western Negev.
As a response to the Qassams that are being launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip and to more advanced rockets such as the Katyushas at the northern border, then-Defence Minister Amir Peretz contracted RAFAEL, as prime contractor, to develop the system in February 2007.
Since then, the system has been jointly developed with the IDF. “Iron Dome” is a mobile system which is intended to counter short-range rockets and 155mm artillery shell threats (the latter as an additional aspect in the current IDF operational scenarios, in that neither Hamas nor Hezbollah have artillery) with ranges less than 70 km. The system will be operational both during the day and at night, under various weather conditions, and able to handle multiple threats simultaneously.
The system is composed of a radar system built by ELTA, a control center, and interceptor missiles built by RAFAEL. The interceptor missile, named Tamir, is equipped with electro-optic sensors and several steering fins, providing it with high maneuverability. Each such interceptor is estimated to cost about $ 35,000 – 50,000.
The “Iron Dome” radar detects and identifies the rocket or artillery shell launch and monitors its trajectory. Target data is transmitted to the Battle Management & Weapon Control (BMC) for processing. The threat’s trajectory is quickly analyzed and the expected impact point is determined. If the estimated rocket trajectory poses a critical threat, a command is given within a fraction of a second and an interceptor is launched against the threat. The interceptor receives trajectory updates from the BMC via uplink communication, approaches the target and then uses its radar seeker to acquire the target and guide itself to within passing distance. The target’s warhead is then detonated far from the protected area.
The $210 million system is scheduled to become operational in 2010. Until now, the Israeli government has been unable to effectively shield its civilians from attacks originating in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. The Israeli military went to war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, in December 2008 because of persistent rocket-fire from the territory targeting Israeli civilians.
Once deployed, Iron Dome will definitely result in a shift in the balance of power between Israel and the terrorists and radical Islam operating against it. With these systems in place, Israel will regain the political freedom that it lost due to the rocket threat.
However, the major shortcoming of the system is that it does not provide a solution for medium-range rockets. Therefore, the IDF has additionally developed the David's Sling system in order to intercept medium and long-range rockets. This system will work with the Arrow missile as an interceptor, which is already in use.
Source: Defense Professionals