Iron Dome - Israel's New Rocket Interceptor
Counter Rocket, Mortar and ARtillery (C-RAM) System

Designed to offer a 'cost effective' active defense against short range ballistic threats, the system can handle multiple threats simultaneously and efficiently. Iron Dome operates effectively under all weather conditions, and can overcome conditions , which typically limits systems relying on line-of-sight, including low clouds, rain, dust storms or fog. The system comprises the multi-mode radar as a primary sensor, a battle management and weapon control system with interceptor missiles stored in stacks of 20 ready to fire from container-launchers. The stacks can be positioned in a central mode, protecting a point target, or dispersed through a wide area, forming optimal protection of a wide area.

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Upon the detection of a rocket launch, the threat’s trajectory is quickly analyzed and the expected impact point is estimated. If the estimated rocket trajectory poses a critical threat, a command is given within seconds and an interceptor is launched against the threat. The interceptor receives trajectory updates from the BMC via uplink communication. The interceptor approaches the target and uses its radar seeker to pinpoint the target and guides the interceptor within passing distance. The target warhead is detonated over a neutral area, therefore reducing collateral damage to the protected area.

The Tamir interceptor was designed for high efficiency and low cost. The missile uses elements that have already been proven in other Rafael designs, and employs new components designed for other in a special warhead that detonates any target in the air within seconds.

Iron Dome will establish the 'lower tier' of Israel's active defense system, composed of four layers. The layer accommodating the Iron Dome is responsible on eliminating threats posed by short range rockets, as well as other ballistic threats (artillery and mortars) with ballistic trajectories from four to 70 kilometers. This covers everything from mortar shells through Hamas' Qassams, Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets and even the Fajr rockets supplied by Iran to Hezbollah and Hamas. Beside its role as a C-RAM system, Iron Dome can also provide combined C-RAM and Very Short Range Air Defense (VSHORAD) defense for air bases, military staging areas as well as coverage for maneuver units in the corps, division and brigade areas of responsibility - protecting stationary as well as mobile elements such as command posts, artillery fire units, troop concentrations etc.

Once Iron Dome is deployed, the Palestinians will undoubtedly put the system to the test. Most likely, their rockets will not be intercepted by the Iron Dome, leading to their false claim that they can 'beat the system'. Nevertheless, despite having a credible defense against enemy rockets, the Israelis should not use Iron Dome to intercept every single Hamas rocket, ignore rockets that pose no danger but retaliate with other means - emphasizing zero tolerance to such attacks from Gaza. Since the majority of Palestinian rockets hit open areas and present no danger to the population, Iron Dome should hold its interceptor missiles and maintain the Iron Dome shield ready for the real threat – the event of a rocket aimed to hit a population center, military base or one of the strategic infrastructure sites in the area.

Read more on the Iron Dome system

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Tamir missile, the interceptor of the new Iron-Dome C-RAM is seen here on an earlier test launch. Below - a seequence of photos taken by a high-speed camera showing the intercept. Photo: RAFAEL

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Two images capturing the the intercept of a 122mm GRAD rocket, by a Tamir missile, during a recent Iron-Dome system test. Photo: Israel IMOD.