IDF to deploy 4th Iron Dome battery within weeks

IAF colonel says system demonstrating impressive results; Iron Dome has intercepted 39 rockets since start of escalation.

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March 11, 2012 17:48
3 minute read.
Iron dome battery protects city

Iron dome battery protects city_370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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In the face of continued rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israel will deploy a fourth battery of the Iron Dome rocketdefense system in the coming weeks, Israel Air Force Col. Tzvika Haimovitch said on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters at the location of an Iron Dome battery in Ashdod, Haimovitch, who is the commander of the Air Defense unit responsible for the Iron Dome, said that the system was demonstrating impressive results and “was being stretched to the max.”

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On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the Iron Dome battery protecting Ashdod, and was briefed on the performance of the system.

The IDF is hoping to secure funding from the government for the continued production and delivery of additional Iron Dome batteries and interceptors.

Defense officials have said that Israel requires at least 13 batteries to effectively protect itself against rockets fired from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

A team of engineers from the IAF and Iron Dome developer Rafael were looking into a possible technical malfunction that occurred at the battery protecting Beersheba, which allowed two rockets to slam into the city on Sunday. An empty school was hit and no one was injured.

Since the beginning of the recent violence between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, the three Iron Dome batteries deployed in the South have successfully intercepted 39 rockets, including 11 as of Sunday at 5 p.m.

The battery protecting Ashdod has successfully intercepted nearly all of the rockets that were launched at the city since the rocket fire began on Friday, in response to Israel’s assassination of the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, who was said to be planning an attack against Israel along the border with Egypt.

Since then, around 160 rockets have been fired from Gaza. 95 landed in Israel, around 40 were intercepted by the Iron Dome – including a dozen on Sunday – and the rest fell inside Gaza.

“The interception rate has been high, but there is no such thing as a hermetic defense, and only a combination of the Iron Dome with other defensive measures will provide the utmost protection for the public,” Haimovitch said. “The more batteries we deploy, the better the protection we will be able to provide.”

The Iron Dome’s interception success rate this year is over 90 percent, up from around 75% in 2011.

The Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at a range of 4-70 kilometers. Each battery consists of a mini multi-mission radar manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors called Tamirs.

The radar enables Iron Dome operators to predict the impact site of the enemy rocket and if it is slated to hit an open area, to refrain from intercepting it. Each interceptor costs between $50,000- 100,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception.

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