Quick Facts

Mobility Stationary platform, Flatrack-loaded and heavy-truck mobile[1]
Targets Short-range rockets, artillery and mortars
Role and Interceptors Short-range defense of occupied areas, lowest tier of Israeli layered missile defense; Tamir interceptor missile – 4-70 km range
Country of Origin Israel
Deployment 10 batteries deployed[2]
Producer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Raytheon as of 2014
Cost Approx. $50 million/battery, $50,000/missile[3]

Overview

Israel’s current short-range anti-rocket, artillery and mortars system – Iron Dome – was independently developed by Israeli companies Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and IAI, before Raytheon joined the development process for the Tamir interceptor missiles in 2014, a condition of US funding.

Iron Dome entered operational service in early 2011, and since then has been the most used missile defense system in the world, boasting nearly a 90% success rate intercepting over 1500 incoming targets heading towards population centers.[4] Currently it is the only fully combat-tested component of Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense infrastructure, however, it will be soon be complemented by other systems like David’s Sling and Arrow-3. The ballistic missile-defense system Arrow-2 has already become operational; soon to be followed by David’s Sling and Arrow-3, which when completed will cover all four tiers of missile threats.

Iron Dome defended Israel successfully from hundreds of rocket salvos in 2012 coming from Gaza. Between 2012 and 2014, Israel upgraded it’s tracking and firing mechanisms, further expanding the number of batteries from 5 to 10.[5] Israel also has the American-made Patriot missile and the recently improved AN/TPY-2 X-band radar in their missile defense arsenal.

A single Iron Dome battery consists of 3 to 4 stationary launchers, each carrying 20 Tamir interceptor missiles, along with radar; all transported on heavy military truck-mobile flatracks.[6] The Tamir missile itself has electro-opitcal sensors and steering fins with a proximity fuze warhead, with launch units operated remotely from a battle management and missile control unit. Each of the 10 Iron Dome batteries can defend 150 sq km, but are strategically placed around city centers, intercepting projectiles heading towards populated areas and disregarding those fired at uninhabited regions.[7]

Although to date Israel remains the sole operator of Iron Dome, they have considered selling the system to a number of NATO states, as well as South Korea, India, Azerbaijan and the United States.[8] As of 2016 the United States is actively pursuing and testing a version of Iron Dome to defend forward-deployed American forces.[9] In the meantime, the United States also provides tremendous aid for the production and usage of Iron Dome in Israel as detailed below. 

U.S. Financial Assistance to Israel for Iron Dome

Fiscal Year Amount Appropriated
FY2011 $205.0 million
FY2012 $70.4 million
FY2013 $211.0 million
FY2014 $235.3 million
FY2014 Supplemental $225.0 million
FY2015 $351.0 million
FY2016 $72.0 million[10]
Total $1.4 billion

Strategic Implications

Since 2001, an array of armed groups including Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah have fired nearly 20,000 rockets towards Israel; including M-302, M-75, Grad, and Qassam rockets.[11] Some believe Hezbollah may have over 100,000 hidden missiles and rockets in their stockpiles.[12] Currently, 10 Iron Dome batteries represent Israel’s core means of defense against this threat. Iron Dome can effectively defend against the launched regularly by Hezbollah and Hamas.[13]

Clearly Iron Dome represents a vital element of Israel’s defensive infrastructure and provides direct evidence of the incredible utility of missile defense systems.

Recent News

Timeline

May 2016: C-Dome has 1st successful tests[14]

Apr 2016: U.S. successfully tests adaption of Iron Dome against UAVs

Jan 2015: Pres. Obama approves $351 million for Iron Dome[15]

Oct 2014: Naval version of Iron Dome to defend littoral and blue waters – called C-Dome – is unveiled

Aug 2014: U.S. Congress sends additional $225 million supplemental funding to Israel

Jul 2014: 735 interceptions during Operation Protective Edge – a 7-week military operation against Hamas in Gaza.

Jan 2014: President Obama approves $235 million for Iron Dome.

Nov 2012: 421 interceptions during Operation Pillar of Defense – an 8-day operation against Hamas in Gaza.

Apr 2011: First successful intercept.

Mar 2011: Initial deployment near Beersheba.

May 2010: President Obama approves $205 million for Iron Dome production.[16]

Jul 2008: Tamir missile has first successful tests.

Feb 2007: Iron Dome project begins to defend against the short-range rocket threat.

Jul 2006: 4,000 Hezbollah rockets fired into Israel during Second Lebanon War, killing dozens of civilians.[17]

Sources

[1] http://www.military-today.com/missiles/iron_dome.htm

[2] http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Third-new-Iron-Dome-battery-deployed-362830

[3] Cohen, Gili. “Why Does Israel Need Three Different Missile Defense Systems?” Haaretz. 2 Apr 2015.

[4] http://www.military-today.com/missiles/iron_dome.htm

[5] http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Third-new-Iron-Dome-battery-deployed-362830

[6] http://www.military-today.com/missiles/iron_dome.htm

[7] https://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htada/20140319.aspx

[8] http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/182485/

[9] http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/international/americas/2016/08/08/skyhunter-tamir-iron-dome-raytheon-rafael-us/88290824/

[10] http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-house-okays-huge-funding-for-israels-missile-defense/

[11] http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/50-days-of-Israels-Gaza-operation-Protective-Edge-by-the-numbers-372574; https://www.idfblog.com/facts-figures/rocket-attacks-toward-israel/

[12] http://www.algemeiner.com/2016/07/12/israels-un-ambassador-to-security-council-hezbollah-has-120000-hidden-missiles-more-than-all-of-nato-possesses/#

[13] https://www.idfblog.com/facts-figures/rocket-attacks-toward-israel/

[14] http://www.janes.com/article/60487/israeli-navy-announces-successful-c-dome-tests

[15] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/IronDome.html

[16] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-usa-irondome-idUSTRE64C5JO20100513

[17] http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Terrorism+from+Lebanon-+Hizbullah/Israel-Hizbullah+conflict-+Victims+of+rocket+attacks+and+IDF+casualties+July-Aug+2006.htm

Missile Defense

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