TechIsrael's "Iron Dome": It doesn't always work as expected

Israel's "Iron Dome": It doesn't always work as expected

The faulty Tamir anti-missile of the "Iron Dome" system just before hitting the ground.
The faulty Tamir anti-missile of the "Iron Dome" system just before hitting the ground.
Images source: © Reddit | CombatFootage

12:22 AM EST, December 6, 2023

A video has recently surfaced online that depicts a malfunction within Israel's 'Iron Dome' system, specifically with the Tamir anti-missile apparatus. Here's what went wrong.

The 'Iron Dome' system represents the base level of Israel's anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense, designed to counter objects akin to artillery shells or rockets. For Israel, Kassam rockets, some even makeshift from sewage pipes in garages, have persistently posed the primary threat.

Since the beginning of October, Israel has launched thousands of Tamir anti-missiles, the key component of the 'Iron Dome' system, to shield populated areas. Regrettably, in certain instances, the system has faltered due to the insufficiency of rockets in the launchers and the crew's inability to replenish the 20-rocket-carrying containers quickly enough.

Additionally, heavy usage meant older production batches were increasingly deployed, thereby steeping the risk of malfunctions. It's worth noting that armament degradation can occur over time, potentially causing failures, particularly if the production quality was substandard and the missiles were improperly stored.

In Ukraine, missiles have been observed crashing near their launchers, and in the video, a Tamir anti-missile is seen hitting a ground target instead of an incoming Kassam. However, it should be noted that according to the standard of Western arms manufacturers, less than 1% of the missiles/rockets are defective.

Tamir anti-missiles: A costly defense against Kassams

When the Battle Management & Weapon Control (BMC) command center of the 'Iron Dome' system receives data from the Elta EL/M-2084 radars that an inbound object may endanger a protected area, two Tamir anti-missiles are launched towards it.

Each missile, costing between $40,000-50,000, measures 9.8 feet in length, has a diameter of 6.3 inches, and weighs around 198 lbs. Their range remains undisclosed, yet Israel claims that they can shield an area of approximately 57.9 square miles. Moreover, the missiles' onboard radar homing head maintains communication with the launcher, enabling re-targeting in mid-flight when the original target has been neutralized.

Such capability enhances the system's efficacy against widespread attacks and ensures its operability under all weather conditions. Meanwhile, it's plausible that the recent incident might have been triggered by either a malfunction of the guidance head or mechanical damage to the control surfaces.

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