Iron Dome: The working of Israel’s rocket defence system

Unlike other air defence systems, which are intended to intercept ballistic missiles, the Iron Dome is designed to intercept unguided rockets flying at low altitudes. The machine works up to a distance of 70 kilometres (about 43 miles).

Thousands of rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israeli territory in the last nine days. Every day, Israel’s Iron Dome defence system has fired missiles at them.”The Iron Dome Aerial Defense System was designed to intercept rockets in mid-flight before they could destroy Israeli civilians.” The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted on Tuesday, “We will not apologize for saving lives.”

According to the Israeli military, the missiles intercept more than 90% of the rockets fired at them. However, the Iron Dome does not intercept any missile. According to official IDF data, the device has destroyed less than half of Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s rockets and mortars.

The Israeli Air Force said late Sunday that approximately 3,100 rockets had been launched from Gaza since the conflict began just over a week ago. Around 450 of them had fallen short of their goal of infiltrating Israel. Around 1,210 of the remaining 2,650 had been intercepted.

The Iron Dome “decides” the rockets pose the greatest danger to urban areas and infrastructure, ignoring those whose trajectory means they are likely to reach unpopulated areas or the sea, given the sheer volume of rockets fired from Gaza, mostly in barrages. Before the escalation, the IDF estimated that there were 13,000 to 14,000 rockets in Gaza, so selective targeting would seem to be crucial.

United Nations for the Middle East Peace Process

Of course, some do make it through. Tor Wennesland, the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the UN Security Council on Sunday that rockets had reached “as far as the outskirts of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and its suburbs, and Ben Gurion airport.” Direct hits have been recorded in a number of locations, causing damage to residential and commercial property, as well as schools and a crude oil pipeline, according to Wennesland.

Militant fire has been blamed for at least 12 deaths in Israel so far. The Iron Dome, built by the Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American firm Raytheon, has been operational for ten years.

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It consists of a radar system that detects rockets, a command-and-control system that analyzes data from the radar, and air-defence missiles that are then guided to intercept the rockets. At about $40,000 per missile, intercepting 1,200 incoming rockets is a very costly proposition.

The functions of Iron Dome

Unlike other air defence systems, which are intended to intercept ballistic missiles, the Iron Dome is designed to intercept unguided rockets flying at low altitudes. The machine works up to a distance of 70 kilometres (about 43 miles). At the same time, the Israeli military is attempting to locate and destroy rockets, many of which are mobile, as well as the rocket factories that produce them within Gaza.

To identify targets, each battery has a firing-control radar. It also has a rocket launcher that can be moved around. The system is lightweight and compact, requiring just a few hours to relocate and set up. While Israeli military analysts consider the system to be a huge success in terms of protecting civilians, they see it as only one part of a larger military strategy.

In 2015, IDF Dado Center researchers wrote, “The IDF does not believe in the possibility of achieving victory in a battle, operation, or limited conflict by the defence.” “A win often necessitates a counter-offensive.”

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