IDF working to upgrade range of Iron Dome system

If technology upgrade effort is successful, fewer batteries would be required to defend Israel’s borders.

Iron Dome 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iron Dome 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF is working to increase the range of the Iron Dome counter rocket defense system, with the aim of enabling it to intercept longer-range rockets, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
To achieve the improved performance, the IDF is focusing on two tracks – technological upgrades to the system as well as modifications to the Israel Air Force’s operational doctrine.
The Iron Dome was originally designed to defend against rockets at a range of 4-70 km.
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 decide not to intercept it if it is slated to hit an open area. Each interceptor costs between $50,000-100,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception.
“This is significant since it would allow us to intercept more rockets with less batteries,” a senior defense official explained.
The system recently underwent a series of tests in conjunction with manufacturer Rafael to determine its ability to intercept longer-range rockets.
The IDF currently operates four Iron Dome batteries and plans to deploy an additional two within the coming year. Last week, the United States announced that it will provide Israel with $70 million in immediate aid for the purchase of additional Iron Dome batteries.
Since its deployment last year, Iron Dome batteries have intercepted over 90 Katyusha and Kassam rockets fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip. The new aid package comes after the Obama administration gave Israel $205 million in 2011 and comes on top of the $3 billion Israel receives in annual foreign aid from the United States.