Israeli innovation is behind the Iron Dome system that has saved countless lives from missiles fired from Gaza. When a missile is fired towards an Israeli city, in matter of a seconds the Iron Dome’s electronic sensors analyze the trajectory of the rockets and determines if one of them is headed for a built-up area of the city. Two missiles dart out of the system’s mobile launcher, painting white streaks across the sky and colliding with the rocket somewhere above Israel’s urban center.
Built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the full system is made up of three parts, all of which are relatively portable.
A radar unit watches for threats in a radius up to about 40 miles.
Information on spotted projectiles is passed to a Battle Management and Control truck, where the information is evaluated and the command is given to either intercept or ignore. The projectile data is then passed to the interceptor unit, which launches a missile programmed to cross paths with the incoming rocket or shell, and detonate it in a way that is as harmless as possible.
This week, Iron Dome has been up against the rockets fired by the Qassam Brigades, the military faction of Hamas, the Islamist political party and militant group that has been governing the Gaza Strip separately from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority since 2007.
The rockets are crude, technologically speaking: Little more than an explosive charge attached to the end of a tube of propellant. While this means the rockets can be manufactured and deployed in great numbers, it also means that they have a relatively slow, ballistic trajectory that is an easy target for a fast-moving, guided missile.
Each missile fired from an Iron Dome unit costs around $40,000, but the cost appears to be offset by effectiveness. The Israel Defense Force has previously stated that as high as 85 percent of the enemy rockets can be intercepted — although its effectiveness was tested under significantly less intense bombardments. As of Friday evening, current estimates. based on IDF reports. place rockets fired into Israeli territory at just over 600, with nearly 250 reported to be shot down by Iron Dome missiles.