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Iron Dome stop short range missiles.

An Iron Dome unit near Ashkelon. Part of the funding for the batteries $205 million is supposed to come from the United States but this is far from enough.

An israeli army  missile defense batteries system called Iron Dome -placed in the south of Israel –  successfully intercepted nine Grad, Katiushka and Kassam missiles from Gaza over the weekend. “This is a historic achievement and the first time in the world that a short-range rocket was shot down in this way,” one defense official said.

However, the system is under development and it is difficult to say if the batteries could intercept a saturation missile  bombing like the more than 120 rockets that were fired on Israel’s southern cities and villages surrounding the Gaza Strip over the weekend.

The Israeli Army said it planned to keep the Iron Dome in its current positions but would move the batteries to other cities within range of  Hamas rocket fire over the coming weeks. Israel plans to increase the number of operational batteries to six.

The Defense Ministry recently completed negotiations with Iron Dome manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems about the upcoming deal.

This is the first time Israel’s air defense has coped with the challenge of high-trajectory weapons. The doctrine of active defense did not become a reality easily – for years, defense officials debated fiercely whether such a system was even necessary. Senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces, including in the air force, argued that this was an inappropriate deviation from the traditional emphasis on attack.

The Second Lebanon War and its unfortunate ramifications led then-Defense Minister Amir Peretz to order the development of technology that would counter short-range high-trajectory weapons. His successor, Ehud Barak, later contributed to the project the idea of layers – prompting the development of the Arrow system for long-range rockets, Magic Wand for the middle range and Iron Dome for the short range.

However, the new system is expensive due to a rising demand in many cities and small towns around the israeli borders. The U.S. already will partially finance this development with a military assistance of $205 million.

While the actual operational costs of Iron Dome remain classified, numbers released suggest each interception costs about $40,000. According to that math, the weekend’s eight successful interception cost the IDF some $320,000. Such costs are relatively low for a missile defense system, but is still significantly high compared to the costs of Qassam and Grad rockets, which range from a few hundred dollars, to a few thousand dollars.

In this sense the isreali military said that the “Iron Dome” will eventually pay for itself. The military hope that the new anti missile system will propel future sales and export to friendly countriees like Singapor, balancing the operational costs of having it in Israel.

About Rafael.-

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, designs, develops, manufactures and supplies a wide range of high-tech defense systems for air, land, sea and space applications.
Rafael was established as part of the Ministry of Defense more than 60 years ago and was incorporated in 2002. Currently, 9% of its sales are invested in R&D. Rafael know-how is embedded in almost all Israel Defense Forces (IDF) systems in operation today. The company has a special relationship with the IDF, developing products according to the soldiers’ specific requirements in the field. Rafael has also formed partnerships with civilian counterparts to develop commercial applications based on its proprietary technology.
Rafael has created partnerships with companies in Israel and with leading aerospace and defense companies overseas. Offset activities and industrial cooperation have been organized with over 20 countries worldwide. Over the last decade, international business activities have been steadily expanding across the globe, with Rafael acting as either prime contractor or subcontractor, capitalizing on its strengths at both system and subsystem levels.
Rafael will be participating in LAAD (Latin America Aero & Defence),
April 12-15, 2011 at RioCentro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
There, Rafael will display two broad “system of systems” concepts and a spectrum of innovative Security Integrated Systems which will refer to:
  • In the sea and on the shore arena
  • In land and urban arenas
  • Airborne/Space reconnaissance and support
Dual use (defense and security) systems will be integrated in Air Defense in layers of protection. Among the concepts display, several advanced systems will be presented,in hardware or in multimedia display.