The Iron Dome missile defense system, which was unveiled by Israel in 2011, was state-of-the-art technology at the time. It effectively plucked incoming short-range rockets from the air before they could cause any harm to their intended targets. Even if the Iron Dome, ten years later, isn't the absolute best missile defense system in the world (the United States has the larger THAAD, terminal high-altitude area defense, and Patriot systems, Israel has David's Sling, and there are others), it's still far ahead of the competition, especially for threats that are closer in range.
It has grown to be the most popular, extensively tested in combat, and, as many claim, most efficient missile defense system in the entire world. Ever. More than that, the Iron Dome has shown itself to be vitally essential as the most recent outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Palestine has revealed – the militant group Hamas fired thousands of short-range missiles at Israeli locations beginning May 10, 2021.
How Does It Protect Israel?
The Iron Dome system is built by the American defense corporation Raytheon in collaboration with Israeli-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The weapon is described as follows by Raytheon:
"Iron Dome detects, assesses and intercepts a variety of shorter-range targets such as rockets, artillery and mortars. It is effective day or night and in all weather conditions including low clouds, rain, dust storms and fog. It features a first-of-its-kind multi-mission launcher designed to fire a variety of interceptor missiles."
And here's Rafael's take:
"IRON DOME™ Is a multi-purpose combat proven system that detects, assesses and intercepts incoming artillery such as: C-RAM [counter-rocket, artillery and mortar], Cruise Missiles, Precise Guided Missiles (PGM), UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones], Air Breathing Threats (ABTs) and dense salvos."
The major components of Iron Dome are three. a cutting-edge radar that can identify potential dangers. a command system created by the Israeli company mPrest that receives data from the radar, immediately analyzes it, and determines the next course of action. Additionally, there are the mobile "shooting units," each of which has 20 Tamir rockets to deflect approaching fire. These batteries, which apparently cost $10 million each and have an area of about 60 square miles each, are used in Israel on a number of occasions.
What makes Iron Dome so effective is its quick ability to distinguish between threats that are actually a threat, such as a rocket aimed at the center of a city, a military base, or a deployment of troops, and threats that are not, such as a flock of birds or a rocket on a trajectory that won't harm anyone, and then fire the Tamir interceptor rockets as necessary. Iron Dome, according to Raytheon, is built to find threats from a distance of roughly 2.5 to 43.5 miles. It also achieves this because Hamas frequently uses mortars, various types of artillery, drones, and hundreds or perhaps thousands of rockets at simultaneously.
Ian Williams, a fellow in the International Security Program at the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic & International Studies and the deputy director of CSIS's Missile Defense Project, claims that the system's command and control capabilities are unquestionably one of its most impressive features. "These missiles move in very quickly, the engagement timeline, when you have to establish control and engage, is very brief. It's seconds to minutes. And, again, it's not like these rockets come in one by one; they arrive in tens, twenty, thirty, or more at a time."
The Tamir rockets are not controlled by humans as they move at subsonic speeds perhaps a few hundred miles per hour. However, they have a variety of onboard sensors, such as GPS and electro-optical sensors, as well as steering fins, which allow them to automatically alter their routes as they go in order to find their prey. They are destroyed in-air when their "fuze explosion warheads" detonate close to the approaching targets. Williams explains, "The idea is that it will detonate the warhead." "It kind of neuters the rocket, but it doesn't entirely destroy it."It isn't always spotless. When the flying explosions' fragments hit Earth, they can occasionally inflict harm. However, Iron Dome has a stellar track record. Rafael asserts that his success rate is more than 90%.
The Iron Dome's Incapability
Iron Dome is not equipped to stop a more potent missile launch, like a ballistic missile, from Hamas or another enemy of Israel. These missiles have longer, steeper trajectories and are faster and bigger. For threats that are closer in range, use Iron Dome. There are some concerns regarding Iron Dome's limitations as well as how many incoming missiles it can block. However, the rockets will continue to be a menace and a peaceful end to the protracted conflict looks unlikely as long as someone is ready to sell or provide Israel's adversaries with ammunition – Iran is one source.
Despite the Iron Dome, Hamas, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by several countries including the United States, may see some long-term benefits in continuing its bombardments. Even while the rockets aren't very powerful and maybe only 10% of them succeed, throughout the course of a protracted fight, Israel may have to avoid dozens or even hundreds of threats. The harm builds up over time, according to Williams. "The worry is the sheer number of them, the general devastation of life, and just the psychological effects.
The Iron Dome undoubtedly succeeds in doing exactly what it was designed to do, despite any flaws it may have. "If you read Hamas' and some of the Iranian remarks and propaganda, they'll talk about the effects of it. They'll say, 'Oh we sent 3 million Israelis scurrying to their bomb shelters.' It's that kind of effect."