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Iron Dome missile defense system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries is a land-based system that intercepts and destroys short-range rockets and 155mm artillery shell threats with ranges of up to 70km. Iron Dome operates even in fog, dust storms, low clouds, and rain, making it a mobile all-weather defense system. Iron Dome detects, analyses, and intercepts a range of incoming threats, including C-RAM, precise guided missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and air-breathing threats. Iron Dome includes three fundamental elements, detection and tracking radar, battle management, and weapon control system (BMC), and a missile-firing unit (MFU). The radar unit detects the incoming rocket, analyses its speed, trajectory, and where it aims to hit, if the targeted area consists of residential areas or any other area under national safety, Iron Dome is launched in order to intercept the arriving threat. The system is powered by missile defense batteries. It has shown high maneuverability, quick reaction time, and salvo interception capability.
What led to the development of the Iron Dome? In the firing of rockets by Hezbollah during 2006’s Second Lebanon War almost 4000 rockets were fired against Haifa and other northern regions of Israel. A death toll of 45 Israeli citizens was reported and more than 2,50,000 were evacuated to different parts of Israel. Similarly between 2000-2008 more than 4000 rockets and mortars were fired in southern Israel from Gazza. As a consequence, in February 2007 the Israel Defence Ministry decided to develop a mobile air defense system to counter the rocket threats hence the idea of the Iron Dome was born. A new battalion was established by the IAF in August 2009 to operate the Iron Dome system. Multiple rocket bombardments mimicking the previously faced enemy attacks were launched which were intercepted successfully in a test carried out in January 2010. The final testing of the Iron Dome was also a success where it only intercepted threat posing missiles while other missiles which were headed toward open fields were not intercepted, this feature helped to overcome unnecessary use of Iron Dome and was hence cost-efficient. But it was not until 2011 that it was actually applied on the battlefield.
As seen in the recent timeline, Israel has been able to protect itself from the incoming air threats mostly due to the Iron Dome which has resulted in a more than 90% success rate. The scenery of the open sky of Israel is no less than of a summertime firework session. The marvel of science and technology can be seen through Iron Dome. It is thrilling to know that such a defense system exists in the world. Iron Dome weapon system in the US has secured a $149m contract from Rafael for the supply of Tamir interceptor components used in the system, in September 2014. Raytheon Rafael Area Protection Systems was formed as a new joint venture between Raytheon and Rafael in August 2020 to establish an Iron Dome production facility in the US. Furthermore, Azerbaijan and India have also known interest in the purchase of the missile system. The Israeli Government is in talks with a number of European countries to explore the potential sale of the system. The recent scenario might even be a showcase of the Iron Dome to the world market. It has not been known the limits of how many Iron Dome the Israel Defence Force has its hand on, in recent time it has been able to intercept the 4,340 rockets the Israel Defense Forces say that were fired from Gaza but if the number of attacks increases rapidly it is unknown if the Iron Dome can keep providing the safe veil it has until now.
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