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Iron Dome – technology that saves lives

Iron Dome stationed in Ashkelon

Rarely is a technological innovation so clearly and directly responsible for saving lives, as Iron Dome. These days, Israel’s citizens are seeing daily how this breakthrough in defence technology is able to intercept rockets flying into Israel and prevent them from hitting their targets. Export of the system in the future is also being discussed.The New York Times recently covered the Iron Dome phenomenon:
In the five days since the beginning of the current conflict, Iron Dome has successfully intercepted more than 300 rockets fired at densely populated areas, with a success rate of 80 to 90 percent, top officials said. Developed with significant American financing and undergoing its ultimate battle test, the Iron Dome system has saved many lives, protected property and proved to be a strategic game changer, experts said.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak toured a newly deployed mobile unit near Tel Aviv on Sunday and described Iron Dome as “probably the most technologically impressive achievement in recent years in Israel.” He called its performance “almost perfect.”

About a decade ago after primitive rockets fired from Gaza began crashing into Sderot, the Israeli defense industries’ research and development teams started working on defending against short- and midrange rockets that now travel 12 to 50 miles.

With the Israelis racing against the growing capabilities of rocket developers in Gaza, the first units were deployed in March 2011. An upgraded, fifth unit was deployed on the outskirts of Tel Aviv on Saturday, two months ahead of schedule. Iron Dome is part of what professionals describe as a “multi-layer shield” that includes the Arrow system, which is being upgraded, and the Magic Wand, now in development. When finished, the system should guard against destruction from crude, short-range rockets made in Gaza to ballistic missiles from Iran.

Iron Dome shoots down rockets with a radar-guided missile known as Tamir, which was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, an Israeli company. The radar was developed by Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, and another company, Impress, developed the command and control system.

Because each interceptor missile costs $40,000 to $50,000, the system is designed to aim only at rockets headed for populated areas and to ignore those destined for open ground outside cities and towns.

Israeli officials say that the cost is offset by the lives and property that are saved.

A defense industry official said that there were hopes the system could be exported and that the more the missiles were in demand, the cheaper they would be to make.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ president, Yedidia Yaari, a former commander of the Israeli Navy, said on Israel Radio on Sunday that other countries were interested in the Iron Dome system, though there were “very few countries on the planet with threats such as we have.”

“When I have time I’ll sell to others,” he said. “Right now we are busy protecting the state of Israel.”

For the full New York Times article click here.

For a New York Times video on Iron Dome click here.

For an NBCNews article on Iron Dome click here.