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Assessing The Benefits — And Shortcomings — Of Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’

The missile defense system has proven very effective ... at least until this week. Assessing The Benefits — And Shortcomings — Of Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ Shutterstock

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The world watched with horror as innocent civilians were killed and kidnapped during an attack by Hamas terrorists in Israel. But this was far from the first outbreak of violence in the region.

And that’s why Israel has invested so heavily in its “Iron Dome” missile defense system.

An impressive record

Israel’s military is well-funded and prepared for battle, but its Iron Dome is the key to saving lives during the initial stages of unrest. So far, the system has proven to intercept roughly 9 out of every 10 incoming missiles.

Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

  • There are 10 separate batteries that can be moved to strategic locations across Israel.
  • Each one contains as many as four missile launchers and a radar system.
  • It can detect rockets up to 43 miles away and launch an interceptor to disable it.

The Iron Dome has been in place for about a dozen years, but it was Saturday’s surprise attack that offered its biggest test to date.

Overwhelming force

Despite a roughly 90% effectiveness rate, the sheer number of incoming rockets that pummeled the nation on Saturday proved too much for the Iron Dome to adequately defeat. Hamas launched thousands of missiles, resulting in hundreds of deaths within a short period of time.

If estimates of 5,000 incoming missiles are reliable, that would be more than all the missiles launched by both sides during a 50-day war back in 2014.

One expert said that the attack was “new territory” for the missile defense system and there isn’t any concrete information regarding what percentage of those rockets were intercepted.

Considering the staggering cost of maintaining the Iron Dome (much of which comes from the U.S.), the current war is prompting difficult discussions about whether the system is a cost-effective solution.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee October 12th, 2023
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