Iron Dome hits 90% of rockets aimed at populated areas

Iron Dome intercepts rocket Photo: Reuters Amir Cohen

Israel's short range missile defense system has undergone major improvements since the last big round of fighting with Hamas, defense sources say.

Between yesterday morning and this afternoon, 500 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. The Iron Dome missile defense system downed over 150 rockets, representing 90% of the rockets heading for populated areas or strategic installations, defense sources estimate. The system detects those rockets due to fall in open spaces in the countryside and chooses not to waste precious resources by intercepting them.

Over the past year the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure in the Ministry of Defense, together with Iron Dome manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) ELTA unit, which produces Iron Dome's radar systems, have upgraded key systems and conducted trials, which have improved the current performance of the short range missile defense system. The Ministry of Defense has not provided details of the upgrades but sources believe it relates to the latest threats and the need to intercept from specific ranges and new types of rockets.

At the end of every round of fighting between Israel and the various terrorist organizations in Gaza, professional teams from the Ministry of Defense and Rafael conduct a detailed analysis of the patterns of rocket firing from Gaza and the performance of Iron Dome. It is often noticeable that the various terror organizations in Gaza try to locate the Iron Dome batteries in attempts to identify gaps in Israel's defenses, which would enable them to hit populated areas in Israel.

One method used by the Gaza terrorists to defeat Iron Dome is to fire massive simultaneous volleys of many rockets towards a specific target in an Israeli city in the hope that the missile defense system cannot intercept all the rockets. Sources believe that one of the improvements made to Iron Dome was to help it provide better protection in this type of situation. In addition, it is believed that Iron Dome can cope better with very short range mortar fire at Israeli villages on the Gaza border, which in previous rounds of fighting the system was unable to intercept because of the very short warning time.

While the system has improved its performance against mortar shells, it is also performing better against longer range threats. Iron Dome batteries are deployed throughout Israel including the center of the country, in the event that rocket fire spreads.

Many other lessons have also been learned by operators of the Iron Dome system from previous rounds of fighting. The Israel Defense Forces had already deployed Iron Dome batteries in many places around the country last week due to the tension in Gaza and the potential for conflict due to a range of sensitive dates. Israel will mark Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Independence Day this week and will host the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in the middle of the month. The Jihad Islam organization in Gaza has already threatened to disrupt the event, which will draw thousands of visitors to Israel from around the world.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 5, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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Iron Dome intercepts rocket Photo: Reuters Amir Cohen
Iron Dome intercepts rocket Photo: Reuters Amir Cohen
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