Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defence system

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Iron Dome

Mains level : Paper 3- Iron Dome rocket defence system

Context

  • Amid the Israel-Palestine conflict, the night sky over Israel has been ablaze with interceptor missiles from Iron Dome shooting down the incoming rockets in the sky.

What is Iron Dome?

  • Iron Dome is a multi-mission system capable of intercepting rockets, artillery, mortars and Precision Guided Munitions as well as aircraft, helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) over short ranges of up to 70 km.
  • It is an all-weather system and can engage multiple targets simultaneously and can be deployed over land and sea.
  • Iron Dome is jointly manufactured by Rafael Advanced Systems and has been in service with Israeli Air Force since 2011.
  • The radar system was developed by Elta.

Working of Iron Dome

  • An Iron Dome battery consists of a battle management control unit, a detection and tracking radar and a firing unit of three vertical launchers, with 20 interceptor missiles each.
  • The interceptor missile uses a proximity fuse to detonate the target warhead in the air.
  • One of the system’s important advantages is its ability to identify the anticipated point of impact of the threatening rocket, to calculate whether it will fall in a built-up area or not, and to decide on this basis whether or not to engage it.
  • This prevents unnecessary interception of rockets that will fall in open areas and thus not cause damage, the paper states.
  • The system has intercepted thousands of rockets so far and, according to Rafael Advanced Systems, its success rate is over 90%.

Limitations of the system

  • The system can see limitations when it is overwhelmed with a barrage of projectiles.
  • The system has a ‘saturation point’.
  • It is capable of engaging a certain number of targets at the same time, and no more.
  • One of the possible limitations is the system’s inability to cope with very short range threats as estimates put the Iron Dome’s minimum interception range at 5-7 kilometres.

 

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