It is a common feeling to admire a piece of very advanced technology that works perfectly in very complicated conditions. That admiration is given a special twist when the technology can save your life.
Last weekend, more than a 100 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. And now the amazing number – more than 90% of the rockets with “killing trajectories” were intercepted by the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) Iron Dome systems. One is deployed no more than 15km from where I live.
The Iron Dome, which was developed by Rafael in record time, proved itself almost after its initial deployment, but when the rockets began to go out of their launchers last week, the three batteries performed in a way that is really unprecedented.
The success of Iron Dome can be attributed to the vast knowledge Rafael has in developing air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, and to the new blocks of software that were loaded in the fire control units of the batteries. The crews also use an improved operational concept.
One of the main issues brought up by people who were against Iron Dome and in favour of a laser-based intercept system is its allegedly low capability of coping with salvos of rockets.
Last weekend, the Elta radar that is used in Iron Dome proved that it is capable of predicting if a rocket’s trajectory will lead to it hitting a populated area.
The batteries ignored dozens of rockets that exploded seconds later in open areas, and intercepted only the ones with “kill potential”.
The success led Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, to say that it is time to define Iron Dome as a “national emergency project”.
If this happens, it may generate the necessary funds for more batteries. The experts say that to cover all potential sections along the Israeli borders from rockets, 10 to 13 batteries are required.
With such a high rate of success, there is a good chance that the necessary budgets will be shifted from where they are today, for the purpose of purchasing more Iron Domes.
The efficiency of Iron Dome is expected to result in visits by army experts from a number of countries that are under threat from rockets.
Some are scheduled for the coming days. The experts want to see the system in real conditions.