The tools of terrorism that aim to threaten citizens range from a knife attack on pedestrians to an IED planted at a train station to rockets directed into populated communities. As for rockets, during 2006, an estimated 4,000 landed in Israel fired from Lebanon by Hezbollah. Between 2000 and 2008, 8,000 Grads, Qassams and mortar shells were fired into southern Israel by Hamas in Gaza. Millions of Israeli citizens were threatened. In response, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in conjunction with the IDF began work on a new anti-ballistic defense system, in 2005. After three years of development and another three years of testing, the system was first officially deployed in 2011.
Named the Iron Dome, it looks like a dreary load of long khaki colored boxes, pointing skyward from a flatbed. But its effectiveness rate hovers around 90%, it is able to confront multiple threats simultaneously and it’s been a game changer for Israel.
Sitting on a truck bed, the system is fairly mobile, able to move wherever it is needed. The system consists of radar and a missile launcher; algorithms determine the precise trajectory and size of inbound missile and rockets. The antiballistic battery is also highly maneuverable. Each missile is about 10 feet long, has a diameter of 6 inches and weighs about 200 pounds. Inbound rockets from a range of 4 to 70 kilometers that threaten populated areas are intercepted by the Iron Dome’s explosive-tipped Tamir missiles, while others are allowed to plow into uninhabited areas. The system’s ability to distinguish is a huge savings. Each Iron Dome battery costs about $50 million and each missile $50K.
Raytheon won a bid in 2014 to work with Rafael on the Tamir missiles. This spring, the first test of the Tamir missiles was conducted in the U.S., launching off a US Army Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) and successfully striking a target drone during a live-fire drill. Iron Dome has also been successfully tested launching from sea, as Israel is keen to protect its offshore gas rigs.
Several countries (Canada, the Gulf States, India, South Korea, EU countries with a presence in Afghanistan) have expressed interest in Iron Dome.
The technology is expanding its reach. A ‘Drone Dome’ was unveiled at an international security exhibition in Brazil this April. Rafael states that the Drone Dome provides airspace defense against hostile drones, including micro and nano drones used to gather intelligence and carry out aerial attacks.