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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Iron Dome is overrated, cannot protect Ben Gurion Airport from a 'Palestinian state'

Forgive me for pooh poohing our 'great success' but Iron Dome is overrated.

A third Iron Dome battery is to be deployed 'within ten days' outside of Ashdod. The two current batteries are deployed outside Ashkelon and Beersheva.
“We plan to move the Iron Dome forward and within 10 days we will have a third battery which will be able to protect over Ashdod in addition to Ashkelon and Beersheba, if there is another escalation,” Barak said.

By the end of 2012, Barak said that Israel would have nine operational Iron Dome batteries including thousands of Tamir interceptors. Each interceptor costs around $50,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception.
And what area will those nine batteries cover? No one is saying. But here's a hint: It's 14 kilometers from Ashdod to Ashkelon (see map above) and the government admits that the battery that is covering Ashkelon cannot defend Ashdod. For those of you who are mathematicians, please figure out how many batteries are required to cover the entire State of Israel (except for areas within seven kilometers of the Gaza, Lebanon and possibly - God forbid - 'Palestinian' border which cannot be defended by Iron Dome). An inside source informs me that the number that the government is currently using is 24 batteries to protect the entire country. Color me skeptical.

Barak (as in defense minister Ehud Barak) hints at where this is going:
“This is something that completely changes the way we protect our citizens, who still need standard shelters, but will also increase the government’s operational freedom in the future,” he said.
In case you didn't get the hint, the Washington Times' Eli Lake makes it explicit.
The battlefield success of Iron Dome could change the political calculus in Israel by providing protection against attacks that prevented Israel from withdrawing after it dismantled settlements in Gaza in 2005.

Mr. [Israel's Ambassador to the US Michael] Oren said 1,000 Qassam rockets were fired into southern Israel from August 2005 to May 2006. At the time, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon formed a political party, Kadima, to complete what he called disengagement, or the withdrawal of Israeli forces and the dismantlement of settlements in Palestinian areas of the West Bank that the Jewish state did not intend to keep within its final borders. The continuous barrage of rockets from Gaza is widely seen as stopping disengagement in its tracks.

“This restores Israel’s deterrence against a weapons system that Israel’s enemies believed Israel was incapable of defending against,” said Patrick Clawson, the director of research for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Second, by doing that, it makes it politically possible to talk about trading territory for peace, even if you are not confident that the new authorities can stop missile attacks by terrorists from that territory.”
That, of course, explains why the Obama administration has given Israel $205 million to purchase four Iron Dome batteries: They hope that Iron Dome's 'success' will 'help' Israel to feel confident returning to the 1949 armistice lines. But what is perhaps more telling is that the IDF has yet to commit to purchasing a single battery of Iron Dome. And for good reason. (Note that this article - contrary to my source - says 16-18 batteries will be enough).
In a radio interview on July 21, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, a former IDF deputy chief of staff, attempted to cool the Israeli public’s response to the July 12 test, explaining that Iron Dome is at best 80 percent effective at intercepting incoming rockets [so far it's at 85% - a bit better than predicted. CiJ]. He also explained that cost issues would prevent Iron Dome from being permanently deployed on the southern and northern borders.

Israel would only be able to procure and maintain a handful of batteries with the $205 million U.S. grant and the IDF has no plans to fund multiple Iron Dome batteries. Ha’aretz estimates that each intercept missile could cost approximately $40,000 and each Iron Dome battery $500,000, while Hamas’ Qassam rockets cost roughly $150 each to produce.

Senior IDF officers, including Deputy Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, continue to insist that the IDF should not have to pay for the system from its budget, and alternate sources of funding, potentially from sales of the system to other governments, have been touted as a solution. India has expressed interest in either the David’s Sling, a medium-range missile intercept system being developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. in partnership with the Massachusetts-based Raytheon Company, or the Iron Dome system, also produced by Rafael. The Israeli government, however, has banned the transfer of David Sling’s technology to foreign customers, a major hang-up that could derail sales negotiations. With funding issues a priority, however, the pressure to reach a deal is high. Singapore has also expressed serious interest in the Iron Dome system.

Ha’aretz reported on July 21 that Gantz, “who observed the trials Monday, was impressed with the system's capability, but was doubtful this would alter the army's view on funding.” His comments suggest that the IDF continues to focus on preparing for conventional ground and air assaults against renewed attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah. Gantz expressed this view previously in a May 31 interview with Defense News, then hinted at further confrontations in Lebanon and warned that Israel has learned from the mistakes of the 2006 Lebanon War and is prepared “to keep all [its] horses in the stable for as long as possible, because when [Israel] let(s) them out, it will be painful [for the enemy].”
Mind you that article is from a year ago. Since then, the cost of an interceptor has risen to $50,000. And the IDF still hasn't committed to purchase a single battery.
MK Avi Dichter (Kadima) pointed out that “we did not hear even a weak condemnation of the terrorist attack and rockets from the Palestinian Authority. Launching rockets from Gaza must be part of the reconciliation between Hamas and the PA.”

Dichter also called for the government to quickly buy and build more Iron Dome missile defense systems.

“The fact that there are only two [Iron Dome] batteries is unacceptable,” Dichter said. “Students lying under school desks while rockets fall are like ostriches burying their heads in the sand.”

MK Amir Peretz (Labor) said the government was supposed to buy 13 anti-missile batteries, and added that the government should find a way to pay for it even if it does not receive adequate funds from the US for the purchase.
Translation: There is NO Israeli money committed to paying for this (Refael - the company that developed Iron Dome - is sort of a hybrid of a private and a public company, and is no longer a part of the IDF as it was years ago).

So to this point, we have shown three weaknesses of Iron Dome: It doesn't work within seven kilometers of any border (did I mention that Ben Gurion Airport is less than seven kilometers from the '1967 borders'? See below), it covers a small area which will necessitate dozens of batteries to cover the entire country, and it is very expensive, especially in comparison with the cost of the 'Palestinian' rockets it is shooting down.

Now, here's a fourth weakness: If you shoot a large volley of rockets at it all at once, some of them are likely to get through.
On Saturday, the terror groups attempted to break through the intercept system's defenses by firing a particularly large volley of rockets at Be'er Sheva, where one of the batteries is deployed.


After the Palestinian launch teams realized that the intercept systems deployed in the past two weeks around Ashkelon and Be'er Sheva provided near-perfect protection from rockets, they began targeting Ashdod and Ofakim more frequently. And when they did aim at Be'er Sheva on Saturday night, they did not fire one or two rockets, as in the past, but rather a volley of seven rockets almost simultaneously. Iron Dome intercepted five of them successfully, but one penetrated the defense system, exploding in a residential area and killing Yossi Shushan.
And wounding eight other people and doing lots of property damage. Seven rockets cost Hamas $1,050 ($150 each). The six that Iron Dome shoots down cost $600,000 to shoot down ($50,000 per interceptor, two interceptors per rocket). The one got through cost one dead Israeli, eight wounded Israelis, and several hundred thousand dollars in property damage. That sounds like a pretty favorable calculus for the terrorists.

Hezbullah is said to be capable of shooting hundreds of rockets at once from the north, which will only make matters worse.

Obama wants us to give up territory for a 'Palestinian state,' which would create a third direction for terrorist rocket fire, with Ben Gurion Airport only four miles (which is less than seven kilometers) away from that 'Palestinian state.' So does our own Left. In other words, in addition to its limited effectiveness, Iron Dome cannot protect Ben Gurion Airport.

What could go wrong?

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At 4:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is another problem I see, 'World Opinion' will really be against Israel [not like it could be much worse] if it ever decides to attack the groups that are attacking Israel. It will be used as a weapon against Israel. I can already see the story line, blood thirsty Jews attack poor palestinians, even though Israel has the means to intercept most of the rockets and missiles. I have to agree with the blog post earlier that is titled "Destroy the terrorist regime in Gaza" although I also would add all the other terrorist groups.

At 7:47 AM, Blogger mindRider said...

No defensive system ever worked properly against a determined attacker. Iron Dome might have been a reasonable shield against scud rockets but shows to be in-adequate and too expensive for vollies of low cost rockets. Israel would do much better (except for in the eyes of the world, but in that respect it can never do anything right) to buy Russian army surplus katyusha's and fire those at will into any area from which rockets are fired at it's territory.


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