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.
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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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.
additional three batteries will not be ready until the end of
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
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
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.
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
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.