Daily Israel Report

Iron Dome To Receive Numerous Improvements

Rafael officials reveal 'hardware and software improvements' for missile defense system that has success rate over 80%.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 4/18/2014, 2:27 PM

Iron Dome system
Iron Dome system
Flash 90

The Haifa-based defense company Rafael is planning several enhancements to its Iron Dome missile defense system.

A company official identified only as Gil S told IHS Jane's in early April that the enhancements would include various improvements, but that details and timelines are largely classified at the moment.

"There is something in the pipeline, both in terms of hardware and software improvements. I can't say exactly what these are or when, but we are in a kind of race (with rocket terror attacks) and we always need to update to increase the probability of a kill," remarked Gil S.

Iron Dome has taken out over 700 enemy rockets since first being used in combat in April 2011. The system boasts an official success rate over 80%, with some sources estimating that number at 89%.

"In the beginning, the IAF fired two missiles against every inbound target, but now the confidence of the decision-maker has changed and they no longer need to do that," added Gil S.

The official noted that the November 2012 counter-terror Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza "was very important, as the co-operation between the different (batteries) was so tight - all sharing their efforts to defeat the threat."

During Pillar of Defense, the IDF reports that Iron Dome destroyed 426 rockets out of a total of roughly 1,500 fired by Gaza terrorists. In the operation the system recorded a successful interception rate of 84%.

While the workings of Iron Dome remain a well-guarded secret, Rafael has revealed that the missile's guidance system uses a "radar seeker," and that it carries a "special warhead."

Greater funding, greater need

In early March, The US Defense Department announced it was providing $429 million to Israel for further development of its aerial defenses, specifically the Iron Dome system.

Additionally, Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, pushed for increased funding for Israel's Iron Dome, Arrow, Arrow 3, and David's Sling missile defense systems two weeks ago.

Specifically, they called for an increase of $175.9 million over the President’s budget and $130.9 million above fiscal year 2014 funding for the Iron Dome system.  If adopted, that would bring the total US funding for the program to $350.9 million in 2014.

The great calls for funding and developments for the Iron Dome system come amid a greater need, as terrorists in the Hamas enclave of Gaza have stepped up their rocket attacks in recent months.

Gaza terrorists showered a barrage of missiles on Israel in early March, raining down roughly 100 missiles on the Jewish state in the course of three days.