Iron Dome Air Defense System

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Iron Dome is a mobile all-weather air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 4 to 70 kilometers away and whose trajectory would take them to a populated area. Iron Dome developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The system, created as a defensive countermeasure to the rocket threat against Israel's civilian population on its northern and southern borders, uses technology first employed in Rafael's SPYDER system. Iron Dome was declared operational and initially deployed on 27 March 2011 near Beersheba. On 7 April 2011, the system successfully intercepted a Grad rocket launched from Gaza for the first time. On 10 March 2012, The Jerusalem Post reported that the system shot down 90% of rockets launched from Gaza that would have landed in populated areas. By November 2012, it had intercepted 400+ rockets.

Iron Dome Air Defense System

Israel Iron Dome Air Defense System

How Iron Dome Air Defense System Work?
Iron Dome has three components: the detection and radar installation, battle management and weapons control (BMC), and the missile firing unit itself.

The Iron Dome defense system fires to intercept incoming missiles from Gaza in the Israeli port town of Ashdod on Nov. 15, 2012. The system can fire clusters of missiles simultaneously to intercept multiple incoming targets. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)
 The radar system detects opposing missiles or artillery shells when they are launched.

The BMC is the brain of the system. It calculates the trajectory of the rocket and where it is expected to hit. The BMC is capable of tracking and firing at multiple targets simultaneously.

If an incoming rocket is headed to a low-risk area, like an empty field, Iron Dome will leave it alone. But if a rocket is on a path to a sensitive target, like a populated area, Iron Dome launches a Tamir missile that can intercept and destroy it.

The system also figures out the best place to intercept the incoming target along its trajectory, to try and avoid debris falling on populated areas.

Incoming targets travel extremely fast, and the trajectory calculations and decision to launch are done within seconds.

The Tamir interceptor missiles cost about $40,000 US each, and can be fired day or night and in any type of weather. They are guided for the first part of their flight by the radar system and BMC on the ground, which keeps them on course.

When the Tamir nears its target, the missile's own onboard radar takes over to take it as close as possible to the incoming rocket or shell. The warhead it carries explodes, destroying both the Tamir and the incoming target.

The Iron Dome installations can be moved by a truck if necessary, and typically have a radar unit controlling three launchers. Fully loaded, each launcher contains 20 missiles.

The launchers can be grouped together, or spread out to cover a larger area. Iron Dome installations are usually configured with a coverage radius of about 70 kilometers.

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