Star-wars type visuals emerge from Israel as its much-vaunted ‘Iron Dome’ missile system is regularly bringing down rockets, small missiles and artillery rounds fired by the Hamas from Gaza.
The Iron Dome technology creates a kind of air-defence wall to protect populated areas and critical assets against attacks.
The air-defence missile system has emerged from a peculiar geographical necessity of Israel, coupled with a strong backing of the US in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and also cutting-edge technology. The US Administration, commencing 2010, pumped in money while Raytheon, a Company based in the US, provided critical technologies. The Israeli development programme led by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems was planned after 2006 firing launched by Hezbollah from Lebanon and The system was deployed by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in March 2011. Since then it has acquired cult-type status.
The peculiar need of Israel
A Jewish-majority country in Middle east, Israel is helmed in by Gaza to its south-west and Lebanon to its north. With multiple rockets being fired at Israel from either of two locations, it needed close in air defence weapon that allows for evasive action within a small time window. Several Israel towns like Sedrot are within visual range of the Gaza Strip. A rocket fired fired from Gaza can hit Israeli population within 2-3 minutes. The Iron dome brings those rockets down mid-air
The US plays a role
Hundreds of Million dollars have been spent by the US. In July 2010, the US House of Representatives approved $ 205 Million in funding to speed up the production and deployment of Iron Dome.
The United States-Israel Rocket and Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act – amended in May 2010 authorizes the President of US to provide assistance to the government of Israel for the procurement, maintenance, and sustainment of the Iron Dome Short Range Artillery Rocket Defense System for purposes of intercepting short-range rockets, missiles, and mortars launched against Israel. Read it here
In 2013 the US Congress reaffirmed its commitment to the security of Israel while fully supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against acts of terrorism. It recognized the exceptional success of the Iron Dome Missile Defense system and desired to help ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself against terrorist attacks, including through the acquisition of additional Iron Dome batteries and interceptors
Also the Departments of Defense and State were asked to explore with their Israeli counterparts and alert Congress of any needs the Israeli Defense Force may have for additional Iron Dome batteries, interceptors, or other equipment. Read it here
Raytheon and Rafael
Rafael, the Israel missile maker, ended up making such a good system that US lawmakers wanted the same for the US. Rafael and Raytheon have, in August 2020, announced setting up a plant to produce the Iron Dome in the US.
The two have collaborated for commercialisation of the Iron Dome weapon system in the US. In 2011, Raytheon secured a $149m contract from Rafael for the supply of Tamir interceptor components used in the system, in September 2014. Raytheon Rafael Area Protection Systems was formed as a new joint venture between Raytheon and Rafael in August 2020 to establish an Iron Dome production facility in the US. Read it here
What is the Iron dome
It is a truck towed, multi-mission, multi-purpose mobile air defence system that detects, assesses and intercepts incoming artillery such as: C-RAM, Cruise Missiles, Precise Guided Missiles (PGM), UAVs, Air Breathing Threats (ABTs) and dense salvos.
It is operable in all weather conditions including fog, dust storm, low clouds and rain.
It can provide protection for motorized or mechanized troop, as well as point air defense for military, industrial and administrative installations. The Naval version called the ‘C-DOME’ protects ships and other sea-based strategic assets. Read it here
How does it work
Iron Dome is composed of three fundamental elements, a detection and tracking radar, a battle management and weapon control system (BMC) and a missile firing unit (MFU). The radar system has been developed by Israeli defence company Elta.
The control system has been built by an Israeli software company mPrest Systems, engaged by Rafael. Read it here
The missile has several steering fins for high manoeuvrability and is equipped with electro-optic sensors. The missile system has day-and-night and all-weather capability, quick reaction time, and salvo interception capability. It can also adapt to rapidly evolving threats and handle multiple threats at the same time.
Other features of the Iron Dome include a vertical launch interceptor, warhead and proximity fuse, mobile launcher, and compatibility with various radar and detection systems. The system’s special warhead allows it to detonate any target in the air.