The newest Israeli mobile missile and artillery defense system, dubbed Iron Dome, will soon be deployed in the field, according to an IDF announcement on Wednesday. The system successfully intercepted and eliminated multi-pronged simulated attacks during a battery of tests this week. The project began in 2007 and was developed in record time, well before the date set for completion. Yossie Drucker, head of the project, explained that "concern for the safety of Israeli citizens kept the staff working at feverish pitch until completion". He expects the system to be in place by summer.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office said that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Defense Ministry completed the Iron Dome tests over the course of the last 48 hours. The system was able to handle a multitude of attacks simultaneously, taking down multiple incoming rockets and mortar shells in mid-air.
Iron Dome, developed by Rafael, is designed to defend Israeli towns and cities against short-range missiles, rockets and artillery. In recent years, such attacks have primarily come from the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and from Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon.
An Israel Air Force artillery battalion has been assigned and dedicated to operate the Iron Dome in the field.
At the conclusion of the tests, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the Iron Dome system is intended to improve the defense of the residents of southern Israel from the PA's rocket threat.
Firing the Iron Dome anti-rocket missile (IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Iron Dome anti-rocket missile on its way to the target (IDF Spokesperson's Office)
...And destroying the target (IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Defense Ministry Director Pinchas Bukhris said that Iron Dome "will alter the political and security situation of Israel on the northern and southern fronts." He went on to praise Rafael and his Ministry for their "impressive accomplishment. This is an Israeli technological accomplishment that was developed in an unmatched amount of time in terms of technological systems development."
Iron Dome Part of a Larger Network of Missile Defenses
The Iron Dome system, the IDF Spokesperson's Office emphasized, is one part of an all-enveloping missile defense network. While Iron Dome is effective against short-range threats, the Israeli systems known as the Magic Wand and Arrow are designed to counter other missile attacks.
Magic Wand, also known as David's Sling, is an anti-missile system for medium-to-long-range threats. Also developed by Rafael, in conjunction with the American defense contractor Raytheon, the system is slated to be deployed in coming years.
The Arrow 3 missile defense system was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and the American Boeing aerospace company. It is designed to intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missiles. The Arrow 3 system is also in its advanced testing stages. Previous versions of the Arrow anti-ballistic system have already been deployed and components have been sold to other countries.
According to the IDF Spokesperson's Office, with its multiple systems, Israel is currently one of the world leaders in anti-missile defense technologies.