The nine Iron Dome missile defense systems were in many respects the heroes of Operation Protective Edge, with the system intercepting over 90 percent of rockets fired at population centers in Israel.
The system, which marked 1,000 interceptions since its first implementation in April 2011, also intercepted 10 mortar shells fired at Israel, a feat it was not directly designed to achieve. The system does not intercept every rocket fired at Israel, but only those aimed at population centers.
A senior Israel Air Force (IAF) officer told Ynet that the current layout of the systems across Israel promise the “largest and widest aerial defensive shield Israel has ever enjoyed, and this includes (Iron Dome) and Patriot missiles.”
The officer noted that Iron Dome is not automatic and soldiers operating it were forced to intervene many times when the rockets were aimed toward population centers, and the system failed to pick it up.
“It happened a number of times near the area of Sderot when long-range mortars were mistakenly marked as set to fall in open areas, but the operator intervened within 2–3 seconds and sent an interception rocket on its way,” he explained.
The next challenge the IAF faces is creating a short-range defense system able to intercept mortars with a range smaller than 5 km [3.1 mi]. The mortars have been terrorizing residents living close to Gaza.
Despite the fact reports have said Israel is separately developing Iron Beam, a laser system for vaporizing short-range mortar bombs and says it also will be able to destroy small drones, the official said, “there was no foreseeable solution.”
Source: Excerpts of article by Yoav Zitun, Ynetnews
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