3 more Iron Dome batteries to arrive by 2012

“The Iron Dome has proven itself since the beginning of the recent escalation with over 90 percent success rate,” defense official says.

Iron Dome outside Beersheba 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
Iron Dome outside Beersheba 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
Despite the significant increase in rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government has not yet allocated independent funding for the procurement of additional batteries of the Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system.
The IAF Air Defense Division currently operates two Iron Dome batteries which are deployed in the South – one near Beersheba and another near Ashkelon.
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The two batteries have intercepted over 15 rockets fired into the South since the attacks near Eilat on Thursday.
Each interceptor costs around $50,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception.
The IAF is expected to receive a third Iron Dome battery by the beginning of October. In July, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems received an order from the Defense Ministry for three more batteries and associated equipment and interceptors, to be purchased with $205 million given to Israel by the US.
These additional three batteries will not be ready until the end of 2012.
Rafael has not, however, received any additional orders from the Defense Ministry despite the requirement for at least 13 to 15 batteries to properly protect southern Israel.
“The Iron Dome has proven itself since the beginning of the recent escalation with over 90 percent success rate,” a senior defense official said.
“It is time to begin investing Israel’s own money in manufacturing more batteries.”
Rafael worked with the IAF’s Air Defense Division on Sunday to conduct an operational review of the Iron Dome. One particular incident under review was the system’s conduct in face of the barrages that fell in Beersheba on Saturday night that killed one man and injured several others.
“There are of course lessons and things that need to be fixed, but this is an unbelievable achievement for us and the soldiers who operate it,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during a visit to the Iron Dome battery near Ashkelon on Sunday.
Barak said that he was working on an emergency plan under which nine batteries would be operational by the end of 2013.
Iron Dome has succeeded in intercepting a significant number of rockets launched into Israel but has also missed some, like the one which landed inside Beersheba on Saturday night and which struck a high school there Sunday morning.
Defense officials said that an initial review of the system’s performance found that the Iron Dome was fully capable of intercepting barrages of various sizes and that the missiles which struck Beersheba.
“There is still a man in the middle when it comes to operating the system,” a ministry source said. “The operators set the way it intercepts.”
Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at ranges from 4 to 70 kilometers.
Each battery consists of three launchers equipped with 20 Tamir interceptors and is reportedly capable of protecting an urban area of approximately 150 square kilometers.