Iron Dome aerial defencesystem
17/05/2021

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Context:

  • The Iron Dome aerial defence system intercepted a Hamas Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that crossed from Gaza into Israel.

About:

  • Iron Dome is a multi-mission system.
  • It is capable of intercepting rockets, artillery, mortars and Precision Guided Munitions like very short-range air defence (V-SHORAD) systems as well as aircraft, helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) over short ranges of up to 70 km.
  • It is an all-weather system and can engage multiple targets simultaneously and be deployed over land and sea.
  • The I-DOME is the mobile variant with all components on a single truck and C-DOME is the naval version for deployment on ships.

Background:

  • The genesis of the Iron Dome dates to the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon war, when Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into Israel.
  • The following year, Israel announced that its state-run Rafael Advance Systems would come up with a new air defence system to protect its cities and people.
  • It was developed with Israel Aerospace Industries.
  • The Iron Dome was deployed in 2011.

How does it work?

  • An Iron Dome battery consists of a battle management control unita detection and tracking radar and a firing unit of three vertical launchers, with 20 interceptor missiles each.
  • The interceptor missile uses a proximity fuse to detonate the target warhead in the air.

Benefits:

  • One of the system’s important advantages is its ability to identify the anticipated point of impact of the threatening rocket, to calculate whether it will fall in a built-up area or not, and to decide on this basis whether or not to engage it.
  • This prevents unnecessary interception of rockets that will fall in open areas and thus not cause damage. The system has intercepted thousands of rockets so far and, according to Rafael, its success rate is over 90%.

Limitations:

  • The system has limitations when it is overwhelmed with a barrage of projectiles.
  • Another limitation is the system’s inability to cope with very short-range threats as estimates put the Iron Dome’s minimum interception range at 5-7 km.
  • Also, the cost of interception is high.
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