Information Warfare: Iron Dome And The Truth

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September 3, 2014: The ferocity with which some Western (and nearly all Arab) military analysts attack Israeli efforts to defend themselves is remarkable, and often spectacularly wrong. Even Israeli systems that are purely defensive are subject to ferocious, and usually false, criticism. One of the worst recent examples were the critics who claimed that it was technically impossible for the Israeli Iron Dome anti-rocket system to shoot down Palestinian rockets aimed at populated areas. Even after other technical experts pointed out the technical and statistical flaws in these criticisms the claims kept coming. Israelis didn’t much care since each day (and night) of the recent war with Hamas anyone in southern Israel could see Iron Dome in action and doing what it was designed to do. Despite all the long range rockets fired at distant (but much larger) cities, none hit and many were spectacularly destroyed before many witnesses by Iron Dome.

The Israelis believe in Iron Dome, so much so that because of some decisions earlier in the year Israel was, in the week after the war began, to increase the number of Iron Dome anti-rocket missile batteries by 43 percent (from seven to ten). Israel has long wanted fifteen batteries of Iron Dome but that was going to cost more than Israel could afford. Earlier this year the U.S. agreed to help out and Iron Dome production was immediately increased. Earlier, between 2009 and July 2014, Israel received eight Iron Dome batteries and about two thousand Tamir missiles. Even so over a thousand Tamir missiles had been used (the end of June 2013) since the system entered regular service in 2011. The latest war with Hamas began on July 8th as Hamas ceased even pretending to halt the rocket attacks (by non-Hamas Islamic terrorists) on Israel coming out of Gaza. Hamas began firing a lot more rockets and the seven Iron Dome batteries in service were the primary defense against a rocket hitting an inhabited area. One additional battery had already been delivered but was not activated yet.

At that point Israelis really, really wanted more Iron Domes batteries. So the air force and the manufacturers went to work. Inventory was checked and it was found that there was enough equipment in stock (newly manufactured, used for development work or almost completed) to quickly equip two more batteries. Because there were already seven batteries active and personnel had been selected, trained and assembled for the new eighth battery it was calculated that by prying away a few key people from each of the eight existing batteries, activating reservists with Iron Dome experience, using some contractor personnel (civilians who had worked on Iron Dome even if they had not done so while in the military) and calling in some military personnel with similar skills (maintenance, operations) to those used by Iran Dome crews the new batteries could be staffed. By speeding up the training and certification of the eighth battery as well as the newly formed two batteries all were in action in a week or less. The eighth and ninth batteries went online by the 11th and the tenth battery was active by the 15th. Military and contractor personnel. Instructors and the new crews had to work round the clock for over a week to make it happen. More manufacturing personnel were brought in to speed up production of the Tamir missiles and components for the radars and fire control systems. Iron Dome is nearly 90 percent effective in destroying rockets headed for inhabited areas.

 


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