Sunday, April 10, 2011

10-Apr-11: Iron Dome works; more batteries to be installed

Israel's Army Radio reported a short time ago that the Obama administration has approved funding of more than $200 million for the stationing of additional Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries in Israel's south. This comes after the missile defense system successfully intercepted nine Grad and Qassam missiles from Gaza during this hectic weekend. Here are several short videos of how it looks from the ground when it works - not a simulation but actual warfare.

Today's NY Times puts it in perspective:
Developed over more than three years by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., an Israeli company, Iron Dome is meant to intercept and destroy rockets with radar-guided missiles... Residents of Beersheba generally have about 45 seconds to take cover when a rocket alert is sounded. Iron Dome is designed to protect against mid-range rockets, like those that have struck Beersheba and the Israeli port of Ashdod, 20 miles north of Gaza. But the system is known to be ineffective against shorter range Qassam rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza at Israeli border communities like Sderot. Amir Peretz, a former Israeli defense minister and a resident of Sderot, said Sunday that 13 mobile batteries would be needed to cover southern Israel and the north, which was struck by thousands of rockets during Israel’s war against Hezbollah in 2006. There has been public criticism of the Iron Dome program in Israel in recent months, with the major newspapers questioning why it had still not moved into operational field testing. Critics of the program have suggested a fear of failure, but public pressure seems to have moved up the schedule. There is also a matter of cost. Many of the rockets fired out of Gaza are crude and cheaply produced, whereas estimates of the cost of each missile fired to intercept a rocket range from $25,000 to $100,000.
As of today, only two Iron Dome batteries are deployed in Israel's south.

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