NewsIsrael's Air Defense: Iron Dome to Arrow 3, Shielding the Sky from Iranian Assaults

Israel's Air Defense: Iron Dome to Arrow 3, Shielding the Sky from Iranian Assaults

Not Just the Iron Dome. This is How Israel Defends Itself
Not Just the Iron Dome. This is How Israel Defends Itself
Images source: © East News | BASHAR TALEB

6:39 PM EDT, April 27, 2024

The Iron Dome is well-known for safeguarding Israel, yet it represents just one layer of the country's comprehensive air defense strategy. This multi-layered approach is essential for effectively countering all aerial threats.

During a recent Iranian assault, Israel's air defense systems once again demonstrated their superior capability, effectively intercepting various forms of aerial aggression and ensuring the safety of the nation's citizens.

In a striking display of force, Iran launched 185 Shahid unmanned aerial vehicles, 36 cruise missiles, and 110 medium-range ballistic missiles in a retaliatory strike last week. Remarkably, only seven ballistic missiles breached the Israeli air defenses, but this was by strategic choice rather than oversight. The decision was made because their trajectories indicated they would land in uninhabited desert areas, making intercepting them a needless expenditure of ammunition.

The media has often highlighted the Iron Dome due to its significant track record and the pride Israelis take in its accomplishments. In its 14 years of operational history, it has impressively intercepted enemy fire with remarkable success rates, including a 94 percent interception rate in May 2021, where it took down 1,428 missiles identified as threats.

However, not every missile targeting Israel is intercepted by the Iron Dome due to the high cost of the Tamir interceptor missiles. The cost of an interception has significantly increased over the years, with each missile costing between $100,000 and $150,000 in 2020, compared to a mere $800 for a basic Kassam rocket. The system's sensors calculate the missile's path and only engage those posing a direct threat to populated areas.

David's Sling in Action

While the Iron Dome covers short-range threats, the mid-range David's Sling system fills a crucial gap in Israel's defense architecture. Launched into operation on May 10, 2023, David's Sling extends protection further, dealing with threats beyond the Iron Dome's reach using advanced Stunner missiles.

Designed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, David's Sling is geared towards intercepting a variety of threats, including ballistic and cruise missiles and rocket artillery. Its range spans from 25 to approximately 155-186 miles.

During the Iranian assault, it was David's Sling that managed to neutralize missiles before they could enter the Iron Dome's perimeter, thereby illustrating the system's vital role in Israel's layered defense strategy.

Like the Iron Dome, David's Sling can monitor up to 1,100 targets as far as 295 miles away in surveillance mode and engage about 200 targets within a 62-mile radius in fire control mode, offering comprehensive coverage against threats up to 9 miles high. The Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 missile systems represent the pinnacle of this layered defense, focusing on long-range threats and even those in space.

A joint venture between Israel and the United States, the Arrow project aims at achieving up to 99 percent interception effectiveness, with the capability to target objects in outer space, including satellites. By 2019, production missiles had successfully intercepted targets in the exosphere, marking a significant milestone in space defense capabilities.

In response to an Iranian attack, an Arrow 2 missile managed to destroy a ballistic missile in the exosphere, marking a historic first for combat space defense. This feat was enabled by a sophisticated network of reconnaissance and communication systems, including high-altitude UAVs, "Green Pine" radars, and the American X-band AN/TPY-2 radar.

The SPYDER system forms ground-level defense, primarily defending critical infrastructure against close-range threats. This system boasts impressive detection capabilities and can engage fighter jets and UAVs from considerable distances.

Additionally, Israel's naval capabilities are bolstered by Sa'ar 6-class corvettes, equipped with state-of-the-art air defense missiles, demonstrating the extensive and integrated nature of Israel's air defense strategy.

Israeli air defense systems are unmatched globally for their efficiency in neutralizing enemy missiles. They create a formidable protective barrier that minimizes damages from air attacks and continues to evolve in effectiveness.

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