Israel touts improved capabilities of Iron Dome against land and sea threats

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JERUSALEM – An upgraded version of the Iron Dome air defense system has reached a “milestone” after facing advanced threats in a test, Israel’s Defense Ministry said on February 1.

The Iron Dome is part of Israel’s multi-layered air defense and has been in service for a decade with more than 2,400 interceptions, mostly projectiles launched from the Gaza Strip by militants. Two Iron Dome batteries have been delivered to the US military in the past six months.

“The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), within the Defense R&D Directorate of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems have successfully completed a series of flight tests of the system. Iron Dome weapons, ”the Israeli Defense Ministry said. “The Israeli Air Force (IAF) and Navy also participated in the test, which was conducted at a base in central Israel. The test campaign took place in a number of scenarios simulating advanced threats that the Iron Dome would face in times of conflict, whether on land or at sea. ”

The new system is expected to be delivered to the Israeli Air Force for operational use – although it is not known when – and then installed later on the new Israeli corvette Saar 6, which arrived last year from Germany. There are plans to equip this new class of warships, which will be equipped with a variety of advanced Israeli systems in the coming years.

The new ships are supposed to defend Israel’s exclusive economic zone off the country’s coast. Israel has expanded its infrastructure off the coast in recent years due to discoveries of natural gas in its exclusive economic zone, and the country signed an agreement last year to build a pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to Greece. via Cyprus. During the Lebanon war in 2006, the militant group Hezbollah fired a C-802 missile at a Saar 5 ship. In recent years, Egyptian and Saudi ships have also faced threats from anti-ship missiles from the Sinai respectively. and Yemen.

Rafael of Israel declined to go into details of the test or the new capabilities. The ministry would also not provide any further details beyond its statement.

A video released by the ministry showed the logos of the companies involved, including the prime contractor Rafael; IAI, whose subsidiary Elta Systems is the manufacturer of the multi-mission radar; and mPrest, which produces the BMC command and control system.

The video also showed target drones launched over the water before Iron Dome intercepted them. It also showed several other quadcopter-style drones before take off, but it is not known if they were targets in the exercise.

In mid-December, Israel launched an unprecedented integration test of its air defense systems, including Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow. During the test, Iron Dome was used to intercept cruise missiles – a new ability for the system. Drones and cruise missiles were used by Iran in September 2019 in an attack on Saudi Arabia, which raised concerns at the time about whether air defense systems were ready to go. face attacks from swarms of drones or to fight against slow and maneuverable missiles flying at low altitude.

Iron Dome has received US funding that exceeds around $ 500 million per year for joint air defense projects with Israel. In August 2020, Rafael and the American company Raytheon Technologies entered into a joint venture to build Iron Dome in the United States. The facility builds the system and its Tamir interceptor, which is called SkyHunter, in the United States. At the time, the system was believed to be capable of intercepting cruise missiles, unmanned aircraft, rockets, artillery, and mortars.

When Israel completed the delivery of its second battery to the United States on January 3, 2021, Israel Defense Ministry Benny Gantz said he was “confident that the system would help the United States military protect American troops from ballistic and aerial threats as well as against development threats in areas where US troops are deployed in various missions.

Later reports in the Israeli media hinted that the United States may deploy the system in the Gulf where it has bases. The Israeli Defense Ministry did not comment on the reports. The United States had previously sent Patriot batteries as well as counter-rocket, artillery and mortar systems to defend against threats in the Gulf region.

Seth Frantzman has been covering conflicts in the Middle East since 2010 as a researcher, analyst and correspondent for various publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and he is co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.


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