IRON DOME – The best amongst the best
We all are aware of the present conflict between Israel and Gaza. The on-going situation is not looking good with Israel preparing for a full-fledged retaliation on Hamas in Gaza. The whole situation started a few days ago when Hamas terrorist organisation based in Gaza fired rockets in hundreds at Israel. Reports claim so far that more than 1500 rockets were fired over Israel by Hamas of which 25% failed to launch. 60% of those rockets were intercepted. Iron Dome, the flagship very short range air defence system of Israel defended its skies very well. In the midst of all this, the world got a chance to witness the might of this system. It also showed how an air defence system, can protect a country’s people and its assets.
What is Iron Dome?
Iron dome is an air defence system developed by the Rafael advanced systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. This system is designed to intercept short range rockets and artillery shells fired from a distances of 4 km to 70 km. The system was declared operational and was first deployed on 27 March 2011 near Beersheba. By 2014, Iron dome had totally intercepted more than 1200 rockets. And now we can add around 900 to that tally. The next generation system is touted to have an interception range of 250 kilometres. This version is capable of intercepting rockets and other flying objects from two directions. In the future, Iron dome can also be seen on sea based systems along with Barak 8 missile system.
How is Iron dome so efficient and effective?
In order to know about this, let’s take a look at the sub systems of Iron dome in detail. Iron dome mainly consists of three important systems. They are
- Detection and tracking radar
- Battle management and Weapon control
- Missile firing unit
Detection and tracking radar
The radar system had been built by Elta, which is another Israeli defence company, and is a subsidiary of Israeli Aerospace industries. The radar used is ELM – 2084 radar. This is ground based mobile 3D AESA multi mission radar. This radar detects the trajectory of the incoming projectile, and determine whether the target is a threat or not to the designated area.
If the systems detects that the projectile is not a threat, the system won’t intercept the projectile as it isn’t a threat and it wastes a missile in intersecting a target which isn’t a threat. The software for the system has been supplied by a company named mPrest Systems, a subsidiary of Rafael advanced systems
Battle Management and Weapon Control
The battle management and weapon control system was built again by mPrest systems.
Missile Firing unit
This unit consists of Tamir interception missiles which are equipped with various types of electro-optic sensors. These missiles also come with several fins for high manoeuvrability. This missile is built by Rafael. A typical Iron dome battery consists of 3 – 4 launchers with 20 missiles per launcher which takes the total toll to 80 missiles at the maximum. These launchers can be independently deployed and can be operated remotely via a wireless control. Rumours suggest that each battery can protect an area of 150 square kilometres at the least.
This system was so efficient that at one point, US actually provided fund and there have been calls and requests for joint production of the missile system in the US. Finally in 2014, Raytheon was selected as the main US partner for the joint production of the system and it supplies major components for the Tamir missiles. This system was also pitched as a more cost-effective system to intercept UAVs and as an anti-aircraft system. According to some reports, the price of each Tamir missile is around 100000 USD, which is still cheaper than the MIM-104 Patriot’s missiles, whose prices range from 2 – 3 million USD each.
Watch here the working of Iron Dome and whether India operates such similar systems.
C – DOME
C – Dome is the naval variant of the Iron dome that was designed to offer protection against the vessels in blue and littoral waters to provide protection against ballistic trajectory weapons and direct attack weapons fired in saturation attacks. This system is a 10 – round canister loaded and vertically launched missile system providing 360 degree coverage. For this system the ship’s surveillance radar can be used, removing the need of using Iron dome’s radar and thereby making the system more compact. This system is currently under different stages of development.
All in all, it can be observed that Iron dome is one hell of a missile interception system and with such an advanced, efficient and effective system at it’s disposal, Israel was in the past and will be in the future, able to defend it’s people and assets from outside threat.
If you want to know whether India can sustain such saturation attacks, you can watch the video below:
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Interested about Indian Rafales? Feel free to read about the avionics and missiles that make Indian Rafales a cut above the 4.5 gen Rafales operated by other air forces.