New Tests Revamp IDF's Iron Dome System

Defense Ministry conducts successful tests to upgrade anti-missile system, preparing it to confront a wider variety of threats.

Kobi Finkler and Ari Soffer,

Iron Dome
Iron Dome
David Buimovitch/Flash 90

The Defense Ministry announced on Thursday the successful completion of a series of tests, which were conducted in recent days to upgrade the capabilities of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system.

The tests were conducted by the Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, known by its Hebrew acronym Mafat, along with the chief contractor of the project Rafael, an Israeli defense technology company.

By performing the tests, the Defense Ministry aimed to expand the operations and improve the capabilities of the system when confronted by a wider variety of threats on an unprecedented scale.

Brig. Gen. Shahar Shohat, who has been the head of Air Defense Command for the last three years, told Israel Hayom on Thursday that "in (Operation) Protective Edge more than 4,700 rockets and missiles were fired at the state of Israel, more than three times those in (2012 Operation) Pillar of Defense."

He noted that Iron Dome managed to shoot down 90% of the rockets that were aimed at civilian areas.

"The phenomenal success of Iron Dome created sanity in the homefront. The Israeli society did not collapse. Far from it," added Shohat.

However, despite the system's sterling performance during the Gaza conflict, analysts fear it may still be unable to cope if war breaks out with Israel's northern foes Hezbollah.

The Iranian-backed Shia terrorist group's rocket arsenal is several times larger, and contains more advanced, long-range missiles than possessed by either Hamas or Islamic Jihad in Gaza, leading to fears that the Iron Dome could be unable to protect Israeli civilians to the degree it was able to during Operation Protective Edge.

While the currently possibility of war between Israel and Hezbollah is relatively low, as Hezbollah finds itself mired in several wars already on behalf of Tehran - including Syria, Iraq and Yemen - military officials say it is certainly not impossible.

To prepare for just such an eventuality, a recent nationwide defense drill was held in early June, simulating an attack by Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsors.

One military source told Arutz Sheva the IDF is even preparing for a "nightmare scenario" involving thousands of casualties in the initial days of a missile assault by Hezbollah and Iran.