Military and Strategic Affairs
| Volume 5 | No. 1 | May 2013
Lessons from the Iron Dome
Yiftah S. Shapir
Israel has been under rocket attack for many years.
1 Particularly memorable
are the shelling of Galilee panhandle towns in the 1970s, the Second
Lebanon War in 2006, when Israel suffered over 4,000 rocket attacks in
one month, and the ongoing rocket fire from the Gaza Strip over the past
decade. Over the years, the State of Israel has developed a doctrine for
defense against high trajectory weapons, of which rocket fire is one type.
This doctrine is based on layers of defense, from passive defense, to active
defense – involving interception of rockets and missiles by the Iron Dome
system, David’s Sling (in development), the Arrow 2, and the Arrow 3 (in
development), to offense against launchers on their bases.
This article focuses on the Iron Dome system, which entered into
operational service in early 2011 and demonstrated what it was capable
of within a few months of its deployment. The article attempts to examine
the lessons from the system’s deployment and to reassess the decision
about purchasing the system. It will also examine future ramifications of
deploying this system and other systems that are expected to enter into
service in the near future.
Iron Dome is a system for intercepting rockets and artillery shells with
ranges of up to 70 kilometers.
2 It was developed by Rafael Advanced
Defense Systems in cooperation with Elta Systems, which produces the
radar, and mPrest, which is responsible for the command and control
system. The system uses a unique interceptor missile for shooting down
rockets. Iron Dome batteries include a radar system, a command center,
Yiftah S. Shapir is a senior research fellow and director of the Military Balance
Project at INSS.