Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is hoping that the Iron Dome’s high interception success rate over the past few days will lead to an increase in international sales.
Since Friday, when the hostilities began, the three Iron Dome batteries - deployed outside Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon - have successfully intercepted around 60 rockets and Air Force officers said that the success rate was close to 90 percent. In 2011, in comparison, the interception rate was at 75 percent.
As reported in The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, the IDF is planning to deploy a fourth battery within the coming weeks.
The Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at a range of 4-to-70 kilometers, and each battery consists of a mini multi-mission radar manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors named Tamirs.
The radar enables Iron Dome operators to predict the landing site of the enemy rocket and decide not to intercept it if it is slated to fall in an open field. Each interceptor costs around $50,000-100,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception.
“The performance is unprecedented and we are hoping that it will lead to an increase in international interest,” a company source said.
If Rafael receives additional orders for Iron Dome systems, the production line will operate at a faster rate and likely will result in a drop in the price.
A number of countries have expressed interest in the Iron Dome, including South Korea, the United States and several NATOmember states from Europe that have their militaries currently deployed in Afghanistan.
South Korea is interested in using the system to defend against potential rocket attacks from North Korea. The US military has discovered 107mm. rockets in Iraq in the past and recently considered the Iron Dome as a potential defense against rocket attacks on forward bases either in Iraq or Afghanistan.
A team of engineers from Rafael is working closely with the system’s operators from the IAF’s Air Defense Division to repair malfunctions that occasionally occur like the one that enabled rockets to strike Beersheba on Sunday.
“There is no such thing as a hermetic defense but the Iron Dome is doing a remarkable job,” a top IAF officer said on Monday, while dismissing claims that the military was conserving interceptors due to concern that it will not be able to replenish the arsenal until after the fighting is over.
“Production of the interceptors continues all the time and does not stop,” the officer said.