March 13, 2012
10 things you should know about Israel’s Iron Dome
Israel used a new missile shield, Iron Dome, to shoot down rockets fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in recent days.
Here are some details:
- Developed by state-owned Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd to counter rocket fire from Lebanon, which hit Israeli towns during the 2006 war with Hezbollah, and from Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas Islamists took control in 2007.
- Each truck-towed unit fires radar-guided missiles to blow up short-range rockets, notably of the Russian Katyusha type, as well as mortar bombs, in mid-air.
- It successfully shot down multiple rockets simultaneously for the first time in tests during July 2010.
- In the past four days, Israeli officials said Iron Dome shot down 77 percent of those rockets it targeted coming in from Gaza. In all, Israel counted 170 incoming missiles, but the system does not target every one, only those deemed a threat.
- Industrial sources put the base price of each battery at about $50 million. Each interception costs at least $25,000.
- It was first deployed near Gaza in March 2011. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said 10 to 15 batteries would be needed to provide full, if not hermetic, cover.
- Israel’s main ally Washington has underwritten development costs. U.S. President Barack Obama asked Congress in May for $205 million to support the project.
- The U.S. Army was reported last year to be interested in buying the system to protect bases overseas. India and Singapore have also expressed interest as potential buyers.
- The system’s radar, which detects targets, has been developed in Israel by Elta. The system which calculates the aim of each interceptor is from Israeli software firm mPrest Systems. Among weapons fired by Iron Dome is the Tamir missile.
- Among computations the system is capable of, it can launch interceptors against only those incoming rockets that are on target to hit populated areas, saving on pointless firing. It also works out the safest spot to detonate the incoming missile.
Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Alastair Macdonald