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October 25, 2012 10:19 am

Is Iron Dome a Failure? The IDF Explains

avatar by Zach Pontz

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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.”

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