What Purpose Does Israel’s Iron Dome Defense System Serve In Countering Iran’s Drone And Missile Attacks, And What Are Its Operational Mechanisms

What Purpose Does Israel's Iron Dome Defense System Serve In Countering Iran's Drone And Missile Attacks, And What Are Its Operational Mechanisms

The Iron Dome became operational in 2011, primarily as a response to the 2006 war, which culminated in Hamas gaining control of Gaza the following year.

Utilizing radars, the Iron Dome detects and intercepts short-range rockets, missiles, and drones. Developed by Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defence Systems with assistance from the US, this system consists of strategically deployed truck-towed mobile units.

Upon detecting a threat, these units relay information to a ‘battle management center,’ where military personnel analyze the data, anticipate the threat’s trajectory and impact location, and select the optimal missile launcher for interception.

Counter missiles are subsequently launched at the threat or its vicinity to neutralize it, utilizing shrapnel for effective neutralization.

The dome, known as Kippat Barzel in Hebrew, reacts within a matter of seconds and is manned 24 hours a day.

Originally it was designed to protect cities and strategic sites against missiles with a range of 2.5 and 43 miles, but it is thought to have been expanded.

It has consistently intercepted over 90% of rockets aimed at Israel, and a naval version was deployed in 2017 to safeguard ships and assets. This effectiveness has contributed to a low number of Israeli casualties in the ongoing conflict with Hamas, while casualties in Gaza have continued to rise.

Other militaries quickly admired its capabilities, and Rafael has confirmed supplying at least two Iron Dome batteries to the US army, with Ukraine expressing interest in a similar acquisition.

While highly effective, the Iron Dome is not flawless. It has a saturation threshold beyond which it could be overwhelmed, though the precise limit is uncertain.

According to Israel Defence Forces (IDF) data, during Iran’s attack on April 13th, the Iron Dome intercepted “99%” of the 170 drones, 120 ballistic missiles, and 30 cruise missiles deployed.

At the onset of conflict on October 7th last year, Gaza unleashed 3,000 rockets simultaneously. Throughout Israel’s 50-day war with Gaza, a total of 4,000 missiles were launched.

In addition to the Iron Dome, Israel possesses medium and long-range defense systems such as David’s Sling, Patriot, and Arrow.

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