IRON DOME gallery

After the 1991 Gulf War, when Israel was attacked by Saddam Hussein with Scud missiles, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were aware of their vulnerability to such attacks and decided to find a solution. This vulnerability became even more evident when we saw how Hezbollah guerrillas could attack the cities of Northern Israel with rockets with impunity since the mid-1990s, making the response even more urgent. However, it was not until 2004, when the Israeli authorities began the development of their own anti-missile system. Meanwhile, during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah launched more than 4,000 Katyusha-type rockets against Northern Israel, and in the period 2000-2008, Hamas had launched another 8,000 rockets and mortar shells from the Gaza Strip against the Southern Israel.
The system is designed to intercept rockets and artillery shells in flight at a maximum distance of 70 km. The Iron Dome operates day or night and in all weather conditions and is capable of responding to multiple launches. The system is composed of the battle management & weapon control (BMC), the detection & tracking radar and the missile firing unit, with the “Tamir” interceptor missile as the main component. The EL/M-2084 detection & tracking radar is manufactured by the IDF and the Israeli firm Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The battle management & weapon control (BMC) is manufactured by the Israeli firm Rafael together with the Israeli firm mPrest Systems, which is in charge of the software. Finally, the missile firing unit is also manufactured by the Rafael company, so the entire system is Israeli manufactured.
The great effectiveness of  Iron Dome system, according to the Israeli authorities, is mainly due to its battle management & weapon control (BMC), which is capable of calculating the impact point of incoming rockets and shells and determining whether they constitute a danger to the cities under its protection. In this way, the system determines whether or not it is necessary to fire the Tamir interceptor missiles. The EL/M-2084 Multmission Radar (MMR) (on the image) is a 3D active electronically scanned array (AESA) that operates in the S-band frequency and detects aircraft at 470 km distance in air surveillance mode and rockets/shells from around 100 km away in weapon location mode. Also provides midcourse guidance for the Tamir missiles once launched. This radar can track and follow up to 1,200 targets in air surveillance mode and up to 200 targets per minute in weapon location mode. A typical Iron Dome missile battery is composed of a radar unit, a missile control unit and 3 or 4 launchers with 20 missiles each. These launchers are dispersed over a large area and are operated remotely via a secure wireless connection. Each battery can protect an area of ​​about 150 km2.
Tamir missile (on the image) weighs 90 kg and measures almost 3 meters in length. It has a navigation and electro-optical sensor at the nose, followed by the 16 kg fragmentation warhead, and behind it it carries a solid propellant motor that allows it to reach Mach 2.2. The missile is highly maneuverable and is equipped with a proximity fuse that explodes about 10 meters from the target, destroying it with shrapnel from the warhead. The missile is guided from launch by ground-based radar, but the nose-mounted electro-optical sensor provides the missile with terminal guidance as it approaches the target. The launcher can fire the 20 missiles in 10 seconds at different targets thanks to the advanced radar and battle management systems, specially designed to face a multitude of simultaneous threats.
The program began its design phase in 2005 and in 2007 Israel selected the Iron Dome as its new short-medium range anti-missile system. In July 2008 the Tamir missile was successfully tested. In July 2009, the complete Iron Dome system was successfully tested against short-range Katyusha and Qassam rockets in tests carried out by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. In January 2010, the system was successfully tested again, but this time against multiple rocket launches, and in July 2010, during another test, the system was able to discern between incoming rockets that posed a threat and those that did not, demonstrating the validity of the system. Finally, in March 2011, the Iron Dome was declared operational and its deployment began in Northern Israel and next to the Gaza Strip. The first real interception by the Iron Dome system took place on April 7, 2011 in the Ashkelon area, and the next day, 4 more rockets were intercepted.
The Iron Dome is a fairly expensive defense system and it is estimated that a complete battery cost about $50 million in 2013, about $100 million today. On the other hand, each Tamir missile cost around $20,000 in 2013, about $40,000 today. The IDF planned to acquire a total of 15 batteries, although the ideal number would be 20, and by the end of 2023 there were already 10 in service. It is known that the development and the first two operational batteries were funded by Israel, however in the period 2011-2021, the United States has contributed 1.6 billion dollars to the maintenance of this system, and in 2022 Congress approved another billion dollars to refill the stock of Tamir missiles. Until 2024, aid had totaled 2.91 billion dollars. In 2014, the American firm Raytheon obtained a contract from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd to manufacture Tamir missiles, and in 2015 it was stipulated that 55% of the new components of the Iron Dome system had to be manufactured in the United States. by Raytheon. In this way, part of the North American aid to Israel was achieved to revert to the American industry.
Israel declares that Iron Dome have a 90% kill rate against targets selected to be intercepted, although the figures are always subject to political and commercial issues. There is no doubt that the system is very effective compared with other air defense systems, and it seems that only between 2011 and 2016 they intercepted about 1,500 targets. Of course, it seems clear that the number of Israeli casualties is really low when compared to the number of rockets and shells launched by Hezbollah and Hamas since 2011. Calculating downwards, no less than 30,000 rockets have been launched during the 2011-2023 period, which has caused around twenty Israeli deaths and several hundred injured, although it must be clarified again, that not all incoming rockets are subject to interceptions by Iron Dome system. Analyzing the public interception data offered by various sources, only a third of all rockets fired towards Israel are potentially dangerous to Israeli cities.
Between 2012 and 2014, the system was slightly modernized and in October 2014 a naval variant called “C-Dome” was presented for installation on patrol vessels, corvettes and frigates. This naval variant consists of a 10-cell launcher for Tamir vertical launch missiles that provides 360º coverage. This system has the peculiarity that it does not need its own radar fire control unit and the missiles operate with the ship’s own surveillance radar. It appears that during tests carried out in May 2016, a ship equipped with this system successfully intercepted a salvo of short-range rockets. In November 2022 the C-Dome system was declared operational and some have been installed on Israel Navy’s Sa’ar-6 class corvettes (on the image).
The United States has shown interest in acquiring some Iron Dome batteries, and in April 2016 Rafael and Raytheon jointly carried out the first successful tests of the system on North American soil. In 2019, the US Army signed an agreement for the acquisition of two batteries and 240 Tamir missiles for an amount of 373 million dollars. In August 2020 Raytheon and Rafael formed a joint venture to build the Iron Dome in the United States. The new company has the name “Raytheon Rafael Area Protection Systems” and has built a new plant to build the components and the SkyHunter missiles, the American version of the Tamir missile. In November 2020, the US Army began evaluating the system, receiving the second battery in January 2021 (on the image). In addition, it is believed that US Marine Corps initiated contacts for the acquisition of 3 Iron Dome batteries including 1,840 missiles and 44 launchers.
Apart from the United States, other countries have shown interest in the Iron Dome system, although there is only confirmation that Azerbaijan claimed to have reached an agreement for its acquisition in December 2016. However, it is unknown if it has any batteries currently in service. . Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, South Korea, India, Romania and Singapore have also maintained contacts with Israel to acquire this system, but at the moment none of them has it in service as far as we know.

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