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Thursday, May 25, 2023

3000 rockets fired, 90% intercepted. How Israel’s Iron Dome defense system works?

The cost of the interceptors is estimated between $50,000 to $100,000 each, while the rockets fired by Hamas cost around $300 to $800 each.

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Israel’s much touted Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, which became operational in 2011, has been put to test once again in the face of a barrage of rocket missiles fired by Hamas as it responds to a fierce campaign of Israeli airstrikes.

As soon as the fresh clashes between the Israeli security forces and Hamas fighters intensified, Iron Dome defense system captured global attention with its massive interceptor firepower and ability to shield Tel Aviv against incoming rockets.

Iron Dome uses interceptors that are 6 inches wide and 10 feet long. These are guided by miniature sensors and computerized brains to detect and target incoming short-range rockets.

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Graphic showing how Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system works
Courtesy BBC

According to the Israeli military, over 3000 rockets have been fired towards Israel from the Gaza strip since the worst confrontation in years erupted in the past week – and over 90 % of these have been successfully intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. Apparently, Hamas militant groups are attempting to overwhelm the Iron Dome – raising concerns about the system’s possible limitations.

Presently, Israel has 10 batteries deployed across the country, each with three to four launchers that can fire 20 interceptor missiles.

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“The number of Israelis killed and wounded would be far higher if it had not been for the Iron Dome system, which has been a lifesaver as it always is,” Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said this week.

The state-of-the-art defense system was built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries in a joint venture. The project was supported by Israel’s staunch ally the U.S., both economically and technologically. A U.S. defense contractor Raytheon produces 70 % of the components of Iron Dome, while taxpayers in the U.S. provided hundreds of millions of dollar aid to Israel under President Obama, in its pursuit of developing a reliable air defense shield.

According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, the targeting system uses radar and advanced tracking technology to follow the trajectory of incoming projectiles and determine if they pose a threat to a major population center. Each battery has 20 Tamir missiles and three launchers that after measuring the speed and direction of the rockets, fires Iron Dome missiles, intended to detonate the projectiles mid-air.

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The cost of the interceptors is estimated between $50,000 to $100,000 each, while the rockets fired by Hamas cost around $300 to $800 each. An Israeli defense engineer, pointed out that Hamas’s best rockets are “relatively simply made” and “inexpensive.”