Tel Aviv University professor and noted military analyst Reuven Pedatzur on Saturday strongly criticized a ballistic missile defense conference and exhibition held in Tel Aviv last week, calling the organizers’ and speakers’ claims that current defense systems can protect Israel from missile and rocket threats false and disingenuous.
Pedatzur’s harshest criticisms were reserved for the Arrow missile defense system, which, he said, does not present a defense against a possible nuclear strike from an Iranian ballistic missile. He said that since the system is not sure to work every time, and because a single atomic bomb can constitute an existential threat to Israel, the system is pointless.
He added that it didn’t matter if the system worked 99 percent of the time, and called its developers’ claims of such success rates “absurd and ridiculous.”
Pedatzur, who spent decades as an IAF fighter pilot, said “there are enough simple countermeasures that can be deployed to make the effectiveness of the Arrow basically zero.”
When asked why he thought such a conference would be held if the ineffectiveness of these programs is well known, Pedatzur replied that “for the aeronautics and defense industries, it’s a matter of money; and for politicians, supporting such projects allows them to tell the public that they’re doing something, they’re trying to find answers to the threats we face.”
Held under the slogan “The Best Defense Is an Active Defense,” last week’s two-day event outside Ben-Gurion Airport focused on international cooperation in facing the threat of ballistic missile attacks, and the belief that an advanced missile defense system that presents an “active defense” can serve as a powerful deterrent to enemy states with the means at their disposal.
Speakers, who included officials from Israeli arms manufacturers RAFAEL, Elisra, and the Israel Aerospace Industries, spoke about the importance of US-Israel cooperation on the issue of missile defense, as well as about the growing threat of Iranian and Syrian missile systems. They also talked about short- and long-range rockets in the hands of Hizbullah.
The long-time IAF fighter pilot reserved some of his criticism for anti-rocket systems like the Iron Dome and David’s Sling, saying they couldn’t handle the threat or hold up in a serious cost-benefit analysis.
“The Iron Dome is all a scam, he said. “The flight-time of a Kassam rocket to Sderot is 14 seconds, while the time the Iron Dome needs to identify a target and fire is something like 15 seconds. This means it can’t defend against anything fired from fewer than five kilometers; but it probably couldn’t defend against anything fired from 15 km., either.”
Added Pedatzur: “Considering the fact that each Iron Dome missile costs
about $100,000 and each Kassam $5, all the Palestinians would need to
do is build and launch a ton of rockets and hit our pocketbook.
The David’s Sling is even worse, he said. “Each one of its missiles
costs $1 million, and Hizbullah has well over 40,000 rockets. This
issue has no logic to it whatsoever.”
Pedatzur is planning his own conference for the end of May, to be held
at the Netanya Academic college, and he says he hopes it will bring a
more serious analysis and debate to the issue.
“They aren’t discussing it seriously or taking it seriously,” he said.