Israel’s “Iron Dome:” What Is It and How Does It Work?

August 4, 2014

Q & A: What Is This Iron Dome That Is Protecting Israel From Hamas Rockets?

As Hamas launches rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, casualties are kept at a minimum thanks to Israel’s superior air defense system.  In the current conflict, up to 90 percent of the rockets engaged by the “Iron Dome” are intercepted as they approach high-value Israeli targets. The Rafael-Raytheon air defense system has held a high rate of success since it first intercepted a Gaza rocket in April 2011. What is the Iron Dome and how does it operate?  Heritage policy analyst Michaela Dodge answers these questions and more.

What is the Iron Dome?

The Iron Dome is an Israeli air defense and a short-range defense system designed to destroy enemy rockets, mortars, and artillery shells.

How does it work? 

Each Iron Dome battery is comprised of interceptors (Tamir), radars, and command and control systems. The system shoots down incoming rockets mid-air before they hit the target. The system only intercepts rockets that would hit targets of value (population centers, military facilities, etc.). This allows the system to preserve interceptors and save more resources than if it were shooting down every single rocket. In April 2011, the Israelis found out that they needed to launch an interceptor against only about 20 percent of the rockets launched by Hamas.

Read more here: 

This article was reposted by on August 4, 2014 with permission of the author.

Portrait of Michaela Dodge

Michaela Dodge specializes in missile defense, nuclear weapons modernization and arms control as policy analyst for defense and strategic policy in The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. Read her research.

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