Iron Dome Far From Infallible

News Brief – Nov 22, 2012

In the wake of the recent Gaza conflict it has become apparent that the Iron Dome system, designed and built by Israel and paid for by U.S. taxpayers, was not proven 100%.
Although Iron Dome intercepted many of the hundreds of missiles fired by Hamas some still got through.
Even as the Israeli authorities bragged about the system’s successful interception rate, which provided a much needed morale booster for Israelis; they have been less than forthcoming about its failings.
As a chorus of approval sounded for Iron Dome’s performance, it’s becoming apparent that in addition to many successful interceptions the system also had some significant failings.
For example, yesterday Nov 21, Hamas fired 116 rockets at Israel. Of these 26 were intercepted by Iron Dome, which is a success rate of only around 20% or one out of every five missiles.
Whatever the Israeli authorities may call it, that it is not an outstanding success rate or even a good one.
At the outset of the current conflict Israeli officials were claiming a 90% success rate for the expensive anti-missile system.
However, maybe because of a change in Hamas’s tactics or strategy, that successful interception rate dropped dramatically on the final day of conflict.
Moreover, it shouldn’t be forgotten that whatever its actual interception rate, Iron Dome was deployed against the unguided and largely unsophisticated missiles used by Hamas.
The most sophisticated missile possessed by the group is the Iranian Fajr-5, which Hamas claims is now being assembled in Gaza with plans provided by the Islamic Republic. With a range of 75 kilometres, the Fajr-5 has enabled Palestinian fighters to now strike at Tel Aviv.
Originally Iron Dome was designed to intercept short-range rockets and projectiles, exactly the sort weapons it faced in the recent conflict; it’s nonetheless uncertain if it would be equally as effective against Iran’s other longer-range, more sophisticated and potentially more destructive missiles.
While Iron Dome certainly had many successful interceptions against missiles fired at Israel recently, the crucial test would come in any confrontation with Iran.
Hopefully the ceasefire will hold but you can bet that Iran is watching whatever transpires very attentively. Just as Israel is looking very closely for Iranian involvement in whatever unfolds.

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