Rafael's C-Dome makes first operational interception

C-Dome trial May 2023  credit: Ministry of Defense
C-Dome trial May 2023 credit: Ministry of Defense

The naval version of Iron Dome shot down “a suspicious aerial target” in the Gulf of Eilat.

C-Dome, Rafael’s naval version of its Iron Dome air defense system, made its first operational interception last night in the Gulf of Eilat (Gulf of Aqaba). The system was used to shoot down what the IDF described as "a suspicious aerial target", presumably a drone aircraft, that had entered Israeli airspace. Israel’s Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 have also made interceptions in the course of the Swords of Iron war.

C-Dome is part of Israel’s layered air defense array. It is installed on Sa'ar 6-class corvettes of the Israel Navy, and is designed to protect Israel’s economic waters against threats such as rockets, cruise missiles, and drones.

Like Iron Dome, C-Dome is designed to protect against threats at a range of up to 40 kilometers. It can be effective against drones, as happened last night, because it is not a "hit to kill" system, but rather its interceptor missiles explode near the target, causing enough damage to make it fall without reaching its target. By contrast, the David’s Sling and Arrow 3 systems, which are higher layers in the air defense array, are designed to hit their targets directly.

Like Iron Dome, C-Dome is produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Israel Aerospace Industries unit Elta developed the Adir maritime radar used by C-Dome, while Petah Tikva-based mPrest developed the command and control system.

The original task of the Israel Navy’s German-built Sa’ar 6 corvettes is to protect the gas production platform in the Mediterranean. Besides C-Dome, the ships are equipped other systems to protect themselves and the platforms.

In December 2023, the last of the four Sa’ar 6 ships ordered from Germany was commissioned, concluding a process that lasted over two years. At the time, Israel conveyed a message to pro-Iranian militias, to Iran itself, and to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, that it had deployed Israel Navy Flotilla 3 missile ships in the Red Sea.

The intercepted aircraft entered the Gulf of Eilat from the east, which means that it may have been launched from Iraq, and not necessarily by the Houthi rebels in Yemen. It may be that, after the hit on the Israel Navy base in Eilat last week, the IDF drew lessons, and stationed a Sa’ar 6 ship in the Gulf of Eilat precisely to intercept aircraft in the area.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 9, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

C-Dome trial May 2023  credit: Ministry of Defense
C-Dome trial May 2023 credit: Ministry of Defense
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