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Iron Dome successful in downing 75% of rockets

December 30, 2011 01:53

4th battery to be deployed in coming months; disaster averted when 20 Iron Dome interceptors fall off back of a truck.

Part of the Iron Dome rocket shield system

Iron Dome 311 R. (photo credit:NIR ELIAS / Reuters)

The Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system has succeeded in intercepting rockets from Gaza 75 percent of the time it fired interceptors at incoming enemy projectiles, according to an analysis of its performance obtained on Thursday by The Jerusalem Post.

The system usually fires two interceptors at each incoming missile.

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“Seventy-five percent is impressive, but we would still like to see it perform better,” one officer said.

The Israel Air Force deployed the system in southern Israel in late March. Since then, it has been activated during the three significant rounds of violence between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip – in April, August and October.

In the first round of violence in April, for example, the Iron Dome succeeded in intercepting eight of 10 rockets; in August 22 of 28, and in October 3 of 9.

Following the October violence, the IDF conducted an inquiry into the Iron Dome’s performance and discovered that a radar failure caused some of the interceptors to miss their targets.

The problem has since been fixed.

Israel currently has three Iron Dome batteries in operation and plans to deploy the fourth in the coming months. Its plan is to deploy a total of nine batteries by mid-2013.

Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at a range of 4-to-70 km., and each battery consists of a multi-mission radar manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors named Tamir.

The IAF Air Defense Division, which operates Iron Dome, holds regular operational probes and senior officers said that the system – which was developed in record time and immediately deployed in the field due to the rocket threat from Gaza – was still being studied and perfected on a daily basis.

Meanwhile Thursday, a disaster was averted when 20 Iron Dome interceptors fell several meters off of the back of a truck. The accident occurred after the missiles were improperly secured while being loaded onto a truck for maintenance, the IDF said.

A number of soldiers and officers were nearby, but no one was injured. The rockets are built with a safety mechanism to ensure they only explode when fired from a launcher.

The missiles were damaged and will be removed from operational service.

Each interceptor costs around $50,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception, putting the loss at roughly $1 million.

IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan ordered an immediate investigation into the incident.
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