While Hamas has been firing rockets, a number of them headed for civilian targets are being stopped en route. This is thanks to a new surface-to-air missile system called Iron Dome (IDF Photo, right).
The system first entered service in 2011, and at present, eight batteries have been deployed by the Israeli Defense Forces. Each battery features a number of launchers (one pictured to the left in an IDF photo), each holding twenty Tamir missiles. The missiles have a range of 70 kilometers, but the Israelis are attempting to develop longer-range systems – able to reach 250 kilometers.
How effective has the system been? At least 75% of the rockets it engages are intercepted, and the system also can tell if a rocket is going to miss civilian areas entirely. When that is added into the calculations, the system’s effectiveness climbs to almost 90%.
Iron Dome will soon be supplemented by Iron Beam, a laser capable of destroying targets up to four miles away. Deployment of the system is slated for 2015. Rafael is also working to develop a longer-ranged version of Iron Beam.