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Is Iron Dome a Failure? The IDF Explains

October 25, 2012 10:19 am 18 comments

Iron Dome CRAM launcher near the town of Sderot. Photo: wiki commons.

Of the 86 rockets that were launched from Gaza into Israel in recent days, only 8 were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. This appears to be a relatively small success rate when considering the billions of dollars that went into its development. The Algemeiner wanted to know why, despite the plaudits and praise, we are still seeing images of destruction and suffering at the hands of missiles being launched from Gaza. IDF spokesperson, Captain Eytan Buchman, explained.

On how the system works: “Because of the quantity of rockets fired it would be unrealistic to try to intercept every rocket. So what it does is it projects where the rocket is expected to land based on the trajectory of the rocket. So if we identify that a rocket is going to land in a populated area, or some other strategic site we initiate the interception process. This process happens within 15-30 seconds. So within 15-30 seconds we have to identify a rocket launch, figure out a trajectory and then figure out the best path on which to send an interceptor missile.”

On why rockets are breaching Iron Dome: “Nobody expects a 100% success rate. These rockets are launched at such a rapid pace. There’s no air defense system that is capable of doing that. Iron Dome is one component in an over-arcing package that we use to stop the rocket fire. 8 rockets being intercepted out of 80 is a success. I don’t think that’s an injustice to the system.  When we deployed the system we knew it wouldn’t be 100% successful and you judge a system based on the expectations of that system.”

On whether or not it has been a success: “The first missile intercepted by Iron Dome was on April 7, 2011. It’s a very young system. We only have four batteries deployed. So for a system that’s only about a year and a half old we still have a lot to learn from it, a lot to tweak. And once we increase the number of batteries and the quality of batteries it will show itself to be more and more effective. The fact that were continually able to increase its abilities means it’s a system that’s paying off.”

On Criticism of its cost: “A lot of people don’t think the cost makes sense. The qassam rockets being fired cost $800, while the interceptor missiles cost $35,000 but the cost of the damage of a hit is far worse than that. So just today those 8 rockets could have landed and killed Israeli civilians. I think that justifies the system itself. And with these things as the systems are perfected the cost comes down.”


  • Robert M Soran-Schwartz

    No Iron Dome is not a failure. It is just a weapon that can’t keep up with better than primitive garage-made flying objects. And with battery-launched missiles.
    But is effective against David’s sling launched stones…

    The numbers given by IDF hide the fact that the Iron Dome lives from the totally missing accuracy of the self-made pseudo-missiles. Should the enemy get the cheapest industrially produced missiles and a mobile battery allowing to rapidly launch them, then the Iron Dome could be used as free-air monuments for state disinformation of its population.
    BTW: should the present primitive missiles from Gaza be upgraded in regard to their flight distance and should they be directed at citadine areas, then Iron Dome would become the biggest joke in Israeli military history.



  • Darin Leviloff

    A 10% success rate is good, but its not sufficient to justify unilateral disengagement from the West Bank which needs to be the ultimate aim of the system in the absence of any realistic possibility of a two-state solution in our lifetimes. And of course, if the Iranians get nuclear weaponry, and even one missile gets through Israeli defenses . . . . .

  • In diaspora America, the Kiddish cup may still overflow, but the Yiddisher cup has been dry for years.

    Remember the threat by the United States to withdraw its ‘military aid’ if Israel Aircraft Industries produced the Kfir C-2 jet fighter, competing with Boeing’s F-16? Replacing the Mirage with American warplanes may have cost Israel its survival. The Knesset surrendered, replacing the French Mirage with an American mirage. The mindset abets ALL Israel’s military vulnerabilities.

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Integrity does not follow political party lines. Some have it. Most do not. Israelis should remember 1956 Sinai and Torah’s mitzvah to ‘Obey G-d, not Goyim!

    Relying on America’s mercy brought Israel Obama’s Mursi.

    ‘Iron Dumb’ is fruit of the Military-Industrial Complex Dwight Eisenhower warned us about. The long history of using cheap Jewish blood to field-test overpriced Rube Goldberg contraptions is unnecessary when Goyishe blood is available elsewhere. So Muslim Obama has his excuse to liquidate Israel and the Jews.

    The billions of dollars of so-called ‘assistance’ that Israel’s enemies wave in front of unemployed U.S. voters come with a high mark-up and a higher price-tag.

    Like most toys Iron Dumb ships ‘batteries-not-included’.

  • Eytan Buchman here, who interviewed for this piece.
    As I explained above, the IDF didn’t try to intercept close to 86 rockets – usually because they were projected to fall in open areas. We can’t reveal success rates but of the 86 launched, we only even tried to intercept a handful. Suffice it to say that the record was nearly perfect.

    • Hi Eytan, Eric Ehrmann here. Thank you for sharing what seems to be a good track record. As an outsider, it is difficult not to look at the cost per stick of an Iron Dome as opposed to an el chapo Qassam. And the perfect storm bewed up by Israelo deveopers, the Obama White House, Panetta and industries who see the project as a boon to the defense industry during hard times. Maybe if the cost could be reduced to $10k a stick, it would look less like a boondoggle while continuing to save human lives. The following text is from Wikipedia…

      “Iron Dome has been criticized as ineffective in countering the Qassam threat for the southern city of Sderot, given the short distance and flight time between the much-attacked city and the rocket launching pads in the Gaza Strip.[75][79] Other anti-rocket systems, such as the Nautilus laser defense system, were argued to be more effective. From 1995 to 2005 the United States and Israel jointly developed Nautilus but scrapped the system after concluding it was not feasible, having spent $600 million. The US Navy continued R&D on the system. American defense company Northrop Grumman proposed developing a more advanced prototype of Nautilus, Skyguard.[79] Skyguard would use laser beams to intercept rockets, with each beam discharge costing an estimated $1,000-$2,000. With an investment of $180 million, Northrop Grumman claims it could possibly deploy the system within 18 months. Israeli defense officials have rejected the proposal, citing the extended timeline and additional costs. Officials also insist that with recent improvements to Iron Dome, the system is fully able to intercept Qassams.”

  • Reviewing the history of this project in the context of US and Israel defense industries seeking to maintain jobs and generating income in a global crisis economy, Iron Dome is an effort to use public fear in an attempt to create the perfect defense spending storm.

    Look at where the seed money came from. Look how the scheme got puffed up. J Street and K Street kick in. Bingo. There was talk of $50K a stick, $35K… still excessive and no skimming and scamming left behind.

    Calling Iron Dome a young system assumeses a future product life of decades, more billions that can be used for more sophisticated programs. The name in and of itself is an oxymoron. Why not Kryptonite Dome or Shalom Dome. The political reality is that 8 out of 80 sticks doing their job at $35K means that 72 sticks were duds or $2.5 million worth of dud product. Controversial military projects that were outide the box like the Harrier and Osprey had better track records

    The el cheapo Qassams are unpredictable at only $800. a pop. Better to invest in ground ops to root ot troublemakers. After all Britain lived through the blitz.

  • IMHO, the iron dome is functioning properly…the PTB just don’t want to make it too efficient…gotta’ prolong this conflict and ensure the maximum amount of damage on both sides, ya’ know…

    • Sergio HaDaR Tezza

      The Iron Dome has been just a window dressing that is not cost-efficient and certainly not fail-proof or even efficient in case of continuous shelling.
      It’s a “Dr. Feelgood” maneuver to silence people’s protest against the daily threat to their security and lives posed by the mere existence right next door of the largest terrorist enclave in the planet, created through a criminal withdrawal based on ethnic cleansing of the innocents to please the murderers and those who support them (Europe, etc.) and to avoid their criticism and pressure. Avoiding their criticism and pressure, rather than doing the right thing, has been the guiding motivation of those who favored the deportation of the Jews from the Gaza Strip (most of the goyim) and those who implemented it (Sharon, Olmert, Livni, Barak, Netanyahu, etc.).
      That’s why the Gaza operation of 2009 was abruptly concluded by Olmert BEFORE its conclusion with the destruction of the Hamastan of Gaza, and that’s why the whole South is not as important for Netanyahu & C. as the rest of the country and missiles, rockets and mortar shells keep on falling unabated on its citizens at the will of Hamas, which starts and stops when it feels, not because Israel makes them stop.
      A system of AUTOMATIC ARTILLERY FIRE TOWARDS THE SOURCE OF THE ATTACK, is what international law would allow and certainly would dissuade from shooting rockets, missiles and mortars at Israel, with its sheer price in lives of terrorists and their protectors.
      Only when shooting at Israel will be too expensive to bear in terms of lives will they stop.

  • The Iron Dome system as described in the article is not a winning formula over the long haul.
    A problem always needs to be attacked at it’s source to be effective, and the others who have commented all know that to be true.

    Sure, keep the Dome but make the price too expensive for these savages to continue with this type of behavior or all you are doing is encouraging them to find better ways to attack Israel.

  • Is this article a joke? Here’s a way to make the Iron Dome 100% effective — the IDF can obliterate Hamas and the rest of the Muslim terrorists in Gaza via death from above. Are you really waiting for these animals to get lucky and hit a school? Kill them now, they’re trying to kill you. Clowns.

  • a better way to deal with the rockets is to enter Gaza and, unlike in the past, destroy the enemy, push out many of the people that came to live in Gaza once Israel surrendered it to Hamas and bring back all the Jews who were forced out, allowing other Jews to come and live there as well. This is what we should do in Judea and Shomron, as well. The Iron Dome only makes sense as far as missiles fired from outside of Israel (e.g. Iran, Syria, Lebanon).

    • I partly agree with those who say Israel should go in to Gaza and wipe out Hamas. Similarly, the UK and US should go hard in Afghanistan and Pakistan and take out every last member of the Taliban. But it’s not that simple. If America dropped bombs indiscriminately on northern Pakistan, they would kill a lot of Taliban, but they would also kills girls like Malala Yousefzai, who defy the Taliban, and men like Malala’s father Zia’uddin, who also defy the Taliban and work to educate their daughters and make a new country. We cannot proceed thoughtlessly like that.

      And if Israel were to commit a massacre in Gaza, it would betray its own best principles and make a mockery of everything Judaism and Zionism have ever stood. When I engage in hasbara, I try to explain that Israel has not committed great massacres, let alone genocide. If Israel committed one now, the world would turn against it in a flash. Defending Israel is hard word, as you must all know. Again, I reiterate that wiping out Hamas, Hizbollah and the rest would be a blessing, not just for Israelis, but for Palestinians.. Perhaps there is a way (surely Fatah would kill Hamas for us), but that way is not carpet bombing or even another invasion that kills hundreds or thousands of innocent Palestinians.

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    It should be bolstered with firing one inexpensive unguided high explosive 155mm artillery round back at Gaza city for every projectile flying in to Israel.

    • Ron Holzwarth

      I agree with E Pluribus Beagle, that should be standard policy. That’s what any other nation would be doing in a similar situation.

      For a fact, firing rockets and mortars into United States territory would be met with a very fast and very firm response, one that would certainly be harsh enough to deter any more attacks.

      And, I shudder to think what would happen to anyone that fired rockets and mortars on China or Russia. That problem would never occur again, that’s for sure!

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