This is worrisome news.
“Iron Dome” is a mobile air defense system in development by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells up to 70 kilometers in all-weather situations. The system was created as a defensive countermeasure to the rocket threat against Israel’s civilian population on its northern and southern borders, and was declared operational and initially deployed in the first quarter of 2011.
On April 7, 2011, the system successfully intercepted a Grad rocket launched from Gaza, marking the first time in history a short-range rocket was ever intercepted. On April 8 it made history again by successfully intercepting 3 rockets from the same attack.
But now, Israeli officials admit that Iron Dome is not yet capable of providing “full or effective defense” against short-range attacks.
From GeoStrategy-Direct.com, April 13, 2011:
As new missile war looms, shortcomings of Iron Dome reported
TEL AVIV — Israel, under increased Palestinian rocket attacks, has acknowledged shortcomings of its new defense system. Officials said the Defense Ministry and military have determined that the new Iron Dome was not yet capable of providing full or effective defense against short-range missiles, mortars and rockets. They said Iron Dome, developed by the state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, was not ready to counter Palestinian or Hizbullah missile or rocket salvos.
“The Iron Dome will provide sound protection against missile and rocket fire at the residents of Israel’s southern communities,” Brig. Gen. Doron Gavish, air defense commander at the Israel Air Force, said. “However, it is not hermetic.”
Gavish, in a statement on April 4, did not elaborate on the limitations of Iron Dome. But officials said the system, designed to intercept missiles with ranges of up to 80 kilometers, has not yet demonstrated its ability to intercept salvos. They said Hamas and its Palestinian militia allies have developed techniques to fire up to 20 projectiles at a time.
So far, two Iron Dome batteries have been deployed in southern Israel near the Gaza Strip. Officials said the batteries were deployed on March 27 and April 4 and meant to protect the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba. They said a
battery would also be deployed in the Tel Aviv area.
Still, Israel has not yet used Iron Dome — a battery of which consists of a radar, fire control system, three launchers and 20 interceptors — to stop the nearly 150 missiles fired from the Gaza Strip in 2011. Earlier, the military asserted that Iron Dome would be deployed to protect military bases rather than civilian population centers.
“Its deployment, a final step before the system’s official operational use, will last a number of weeks, during which we will survey its effectiveness in various sites in the south,” Gavish said.
Officials said Israel would require at least 12 Iron Dome batteries for effective protection against short-range missiles and rockets. They said the Israel Air Force has still not trained soldiers to use Iron Dome, particularly the synchronization of radar and interceptors.
Israel plans to acquire and deploy another four Iron Dome batteries by 2013. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said funding for the four batteries would come from the United States, which has pledged $205 million to expand the missile and rocket defense program.
“With the financial help of the Americans, we hope to equip ourselves with four new Iron Dome batteries so we will have six in operation in the next two years,” Barak said.