Both sides have used air strikes and rocket fire in the war between Israel and Palestine. On Tuesday evening, footage on social media showed Israeli Iron Dome air defense intercepting rockets fired from Gaza. The rockets looked to be colliding with an unseen shield.
What is the Iron Dome?
It’s a short-range ground-to-air air defense system with a radar and Tamir interceptor missiles that track and intercept rockets and missiles aimed against Israeli targets. It can defend against rockets, artillery, and mortars (C-RAM), as well as planes, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Iron Dome was born during the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon war, when Hezbollah launched hundreds of missiles into Israel. The following year, Israel’s Rafael Advance Systems declared that it will develop a new air defence system to safeguard its cities and people. It was created in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries.
In 2011, the Iron Dome was installed. Rafael claims a success rate of over 90%, while experts believe that the success rate is above 80% with over 2000 interceptions. Rafael claims that it can “protect deployed and maneuvering forces, as well as the Forward Operating Base (FOB) and urban areas, against a wide range of indirect and aerial threats,” according to its website.
How does it work, and what makes it so effective?
The Iron Dome is made up of three major systems that operate together to produce a shield over the area where it is deployed, allowing it to deal with a variety of threats. It has a detection and tracking radar, a battle management and weapon control system (BMC), and a missile firing unit to detect and track any oncoming threats. The BMC serves as a communication link between the radar and the interceptor missile.
It can be utilised in all kinds of weather, both at night and during the day.
There are two basic parts in every air defence system, according to retired Air Marshal Anil Chopra, who leads the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) think tank in New Delhi. “One is the radar, which should be able to see small objects and track them accurately.”
Any air defence system, he explained, normally has two to three radars to locate and track incoming objects. “When you launch the weapon, the tracking radar will assist the projectile in reaching its target.” After that, “the weapon’s own head will take control,” he claimed.
After the missile is launched, it “should be able to maneuver, see the small target on her own, and then go and shoot.” However, hitting the target directly every time is unfeasible, which is why each missile contains a “proximity fuse,” which is a “laser-controlled fuse.” This triggers and bursts the missile with shrapnel when it gets within ten meters of the target, destroying it. “The warhead is exploded in such a way that it compensates for the missile’s and target’s velocity.” Chopra explained.
How much does it cost?
Each battery, or entire device, can cost upwards of $50 million, with each interceptor Tamir missile costing roughly $80,000. A rocket, on the other hand, may be purchased for less than $1,000. Each rocket is intercepted by two Tamir missiles sent by the system.
Chopra, on the other hand, believes it is not a suitable way to assess cost-effectiveness. “It’s an expensive exercise if I have to take… rockets, which are quite cheap, and I’m shooting any missile.”
He claims, however, that it acts as a deterrent. He also stated that cost-effectiveness is defined as each life saved. The second is about the nation’s spirit in not being intimidated by missiles, he added.
What kind of systems does India have?
Israel, together with the United States and Russia, is the dominant power. “Because of the threat around them, Israel has to master it, and they cooperate closely with the Americans.”
“Iron Dome was one of the systems that was being discussed,” he claimed, as India is in the midst of purchasing S-400 air defence systems from Russia for more than $5 billion.
While India is the size of a continent, Israel is much smaller and must contend with threats that are closer to it. “We have the S-400, which is capable of dealing with all three threats” (rockets, missiles and cruise missiles). However, they have a far greater range.
The S400 must be capable of shooting down missiles and planes with a range of 300 to 400 kilometres.” The S-400, according to Chopra, “has a far wider air defence bubble to knock off threats.”
India and Israel have a lot of missile collaboration, notably the Baraak-8. “We’ve also collaborated extensively with Israel on air defence radars,”
India currently has Akash short-range surface-to-air missiles, as well as Russian weapons such as Pechora. “All are being gradually replaced with more sophisticated weapons,” Chopra said, adding that India is purchasing two National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II missile systems from the United States to protect Delhi.