Israel Says Iron Dome Ready For Deployment; IDF Balks at Price Tag

With considerable fanfare unusual for the highly secretive Israeli military, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday that the “Iron Dome” counter-rocket artillery mortar system was ready for operational deployment. Iron Dome combines detection and tracking radars with vertically launched guided interceptor missiles to blow out of the air incoming Katyusha rockets, which Hezbollah rained down on northern Israel in summer 2006, as well as smaller mortar rounds, launched with some frequency from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns.

The first two Iron Dome batteries will be deployed in November, the ministry said. Iron Dome has been in development for years, but was fast-tracked after the 2006 Lebanon War and the Gaza Strip war against Hamas 18 months ago. It is supposed to form the lowest level of a multi-tiered defensive system, targeting rockets, mortars and artillery rounds out to 70 kilometers; the Arrow anti-ballistic missile would form the top tier and tackle Scuds and the like.

An article in Israel’s Haaretz quotes an anonymous defense official gushing over the system’s performance in the recent tests:

Iron Dome, he said, when “faced with a volley of Grad-type Katyushas, fires a counter-volley and the interceptors are required to select and intercept specific Grads in this flying pack. It looked impossible, but they did the impossible,” he said. “Every missile picked the specific Grad it was asked to select and destroyed it. There’s no doubt this is historic.”

The Obama administration committed some $205 million to the system’s development this year. “Iron Dome fills a gap in Israel’s multi-tiered defense system,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro, speaking at Brookings earlier this month. “Israel has conducted thorough tests of Iron Dome components and we’ve conducted an evaluation of our own. We are confident that Iron Dome will provide improved defense for the people of Israel.”

Yet, the IDF is reluctant to buy it, grumbling over the cost of each Iron Dome intercept, estimated at nearly $50,000, compared to the estimated $500 cost of a Palestinian rocket. Press reports put Iron Dome development costs at $250 million, with each battery costing about $50 million.

Haaretz says IDF deputy chief of staff Benny Gantz was impressed with the Iron Dome tests, but thinks other countries should pick up the tab for the system, rather than have it come out of the IDF’s budget.

— Greg Grant

Image: Rafael

  • SMSgt Mac

    Then someone should tell Benny to save his money and field the MTHEL.

    • Jacob

      I’m sure firing a laser once still costs more than what it took to build the rocket that’s being destroyed.

      • SMSgt Mac

        I was being half-facetious. The MTHEL was where they were going and then balked for a couple of reasons, butif they had hung in there, they could have been part of the newer developments including the solid state lasers. Anyway, you don’t shoot based upon the cost of the rocket/mortar coming into the defended area, you shoot at the incoming weapon based upon what you think it is going to hit: You save money and let the ‘misses’ through.

    • ShotgunSassy

      I would not undermind/underestimate Israel………….I know who has their back and let the cowards attack them…….watch it all play out and see Israel’s people/country rise up stronger than ever!! No to mess with God’s people is a fool’s game—the fool’s will lose!! You go Israel-I believe in you!!

  • MCQknight

    The problemwith Iron Dome is that, because Hamas and Hezbollah field rockets that are much cheaper than the Israeli interceptor, they can field hundreds of rockets for every israeli interceptor. I’ve read in some sources that Iran and Syria have supplied Hezbollah with many 120mm rockets. These are have a much shorter range and less destructive power than the 220 and 230 mm varieties which Hezbollah employed en masse in 2006, but they are also much cheaper and simpler to operate. If another war breaks out, I would suspect that Hezbollah and Hamas would fire volleys of their most primitive rockets first in order to exhaust Israel’s supply of interceptor missiles before switching to longer range and more accurate rockets.

  • djmarvel

    That is definitely a wise strategy. But the more rockets they fire, the more difficult it will be for them to hide from a counterattack.

  • Ikonovich

    Not getting how Benny Gantz expects other countries to pay for Israel’s defense instead of the IDF.

  • Mitch S.

    Israel’s done a lot of technology exchange with China.
    Give some Chinese contract manufacturer the plans and they’ll pump ’em out for $1000.00/per!

  • Sev

    I’d save it for very destructive missiles only such as Iranian long range ballistic missiles. Save it for only the most dangerous threats. Everything should be countered with a less expensive system. Although, I’m sure the US would like to have this system so maybe we could work out a deal here. The tech will get cheaper over time. I think it was unwise to flaunt this technology in the worlds face, especially with Iran watching. Iran has a close relationship with China and if CHina acquired this technology I suspect Iran would too and find a way to counter it. However I hope the Israeli Intelligence Agancy and IDF know what they’re doing by bragging about it.

  • Stephen Russell

    Go Israel, Go with this Big time, must for All cities & now add recent Laser units that killed 2 drones in tests.

  • chazfh

    Israel could have bought the C-RAMS ages ago and chose not to, now they’re saying that Iron Dome is too expensive…

    Guess its more worthwhile to let the missiles land and then spend millions of dollars in strike packages that’ll cause a high level of civilian casulties and alienate more of the world against Israel eh?

    • Chimp

      Personally, I would say that traditional counter battery tactics are both legal and ethical in this case.

      The responsibility for the inevitable civilian deaths lies *entirely* with the organisations that fires from areas containing non-combatants.

      Implying that a state does not have the right to fire in self defence is, frankly, idiotic. That kind of tranzi thinking is what leads to $50,000 missile interceptors (if you believe that price) that can be beaten by volume of fire and coordination onto different targets.

    • Osher Doctorow

      How can you “alienate more of the world” against Israel? That sounds like the Liberals’ : “Gee, don’t fight back against the Commies, we’ll alienate them and the world.” That Civilian-At-Any-Price Diplomacy-At-Any-Price Mis-Strategy. The U.N. mostly hates Israel. Maybe you’ve got another planet in mind?

      Osher Doctorow

  • blight

    No chance of CIWS working as ultra close in, even if you pair it with a longer-ranged gun? Granted, you’d need lots of batteries for coverage, but rounds are economical in comparison to missiles…and you can always turn them on ground targets if you need to.

    • Ed!

      The problem with CIWS is you are firing hundreds, possibly thousands of high explosive rounds at a rocket. Those rounds do not detonate after they miss, they keep going. The CIWS is 20mm. Think of the collateral damage those rounds will do when they spray all over the place.

      • blight

        The Israelis are better prepared than people in the US: if I recall correctly some houses still have shelters in the basement.

        I suppose if one has a reasonably good idea of where shots will come from, you could position CIWS strategically around a perimeter. You’d still have to collect unexploded rounds though…

      • B. Dean

        not all CIWS rounds are high explosive (if they are explosive at all) they are made of a very heavy metal…which means they pack a ‘Punch’!!
        Besides, CIWS is working great right as we speak in a theater of operation!

        • SSG Scott

          Thats right the CIWS can fire depleated uranium rounds that arn’t HE.. They destroy with kinetic energy only…

          We already have counterfire radar the Q-36 & Q-37 firefinder, why not use these more? Open up the info flow so they can return fire as fast as possible on targets. All you need in 105mm or 155mm arty. to return fire.. Oh, they might hit civilians.. but, then if you constantly hiting all firing points and the public sees this.. the public might demand that they take those rockets somewheres else and not to fire them in their neighborhood?? (For fear of counterstrike)..
          I realy think that the CIWS is a good idea though! A dozen or so of these would be effective and cheaper.. You wouldn’t have to recover spent rounds…They’re falling in enemy territory how could you?

          • Joe Schmoe

            The C-RAM only works to protect a small area, not something the size of a large city.

  • Sam

    Another $205 million of the taxpayer’s money wasted on a terrorist state.

    • randall

      Please know one else respond. its what they feed on.

    • Les Le Gear

      Sam, you call Israel a terrorist state. Funny, nothing said about the arabs whose religious philosophy is rooted in terrorism. Bet you are big fan of hezbollah, hamas, aq and all
      the other peace loving groups sworn to Israel’s destruction.

      • Sam

        What religious philosophy are you talking about? Islam or Christianity? Tell us something about Jewish philosophy and Zionism as well.

  • Oblat

    The General needn’t worry. I’m sure Americans will do as we are told and fund whatever the Israelis want - As Netanyahu says when the Israelis want something the American know where their place is.

    • Ed!

      I’m sure we can buy this system and use it in Afghanistan to defend against the same threat the Israelis have.

      • E_Khun

        In a few years maybe, the main threat in Afghanistan is still IED’s, car-bomb’s and suicide bombers.

        When the enemy shifts to Katyusha type rockets it’ll actually be a sign that someone made progress in this conflict.

  • sarahhop

    Wow..this is interesting…I’m sure Ben knows this quite well.

  • MacGyver - Sr.

    Sounds like a good system for S. Korea, being so close to the North.

    • blight

      That it does. If anything, they should move the capitol from Seoul to Pusan first…

    • Nick

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t thousands of so-called “hidden” artillery pieces scattered throughout Nork mountains, their sights aimed at Seoul? I get your logic, but the Iron Dome won’t be able to do much against relentless shelling.

      It’ll stop a few projectiles, but they’ll run out of ammo quiick. The missile’s target selection capability won’t help much either, assuming that the majority of those rounds are headed to Seoul anyway.

  • amtho93944

    As much as I agree with what Israel is doing and how they are doing it, I think we should think about the USS Liberty (which they never apologized for) before we start the love fest.

    • Enforcer57

      While doing so, we should remember that they inquired repeatedly if we had anything in the area, gave warnings that Egyptian ships were flying many flags (including US) and that this occurred during the the 3rd most incompetent-militarily ignorant president in US history (after Carter and Obama). We tried to be “neutral” so we wouldn’t annoy the Soviets or arab countries. Besides, this was 4 decades ago and Israel has proven its value as the MOST reliable and powerful US ally in the region. They’ve done alot of dirty work for us that the public will never know but should be able to figure out, and are on the frontlines (literally) of the war against the world enemy terrorists axis alliance (as made official by the recent axis alliance signed by N. Korea and Iran). We should apologize to them for refusing to give them access to Iraqi airspace to attack the Iranian nuke program while it was still centralized enough to do it.

  • Jay

    The main reason the US pays part of the cost is to keep Israel on a short leash - without US funding countermeasures the cheaper way of dealing with the missile threat would be to bomb the launch areas and send ground troops to destroy the factories and kill the terrorists (the method the Allies used to stop the Nazi V1 and V2 threat). That would require occupying Gaza, collateral damage, lots of bad press, and rage from the muslim street. All that would undermine what is left of the “peace process”, which is a central US foreign policy interest. So we are paying to protect our interest and lots of civilians and both sides.

    • Osher Doctorow

      But the “Palestinians” are pro-Terrorists and even elected Terrorist Hamas as their government! Why shouldn’t we treat them like we did the Nazi V1 and V2 threat? Who the heck cares about “bad press” in a War - in fact, in WWII, we shut the Press’ mouth, and that’s what we should do in any War. As for the “Peace Process”, that’s the Gates-Petraeus “No Touch-a Civilians, No Identify the Enemy as Muslim Terrorists” Civilian-At-Any-Price, No use Air-Naval Bombardment “Counterinsurgency” farce that has made Afghanistan way longer than our participation in WWII (Dec. 1941 through 1945).

      Osher Doctorow

  • Jay

    amtho93944 - The Israelis did apologize for the liberty accident. US Navy Command had told Israel there were no American ships in the war zone, and had ordered the Liberty to leave - someone missed the message.

  • ShotgunSassy

    I will back Israel any day!! Don’t ever underestimate/undermind them……….I know who has their back and only a fool(evil-terrorist-) would attempt such an attack. You mark my word……..those are God’s people and his land………just step back and watch what happens—It will be like David and Goliath all over again!!

    • Sam

      “those are God’s people and his land”

      These evangelical Christian fanatics are pathetic.

    • blight

      The god that says everyone after Moses is probably a false prophet, or the one that says Jesus is part of the trinity and died on the cross for our sins?

      Religion really doesn’t need to be brought into a blog post about anti-missile systems…

      • William C.

        You some sort of godless commie?

        • blight

          You wish, it’s easier to demean someone if you don’t have to identify with them.

  • roland

    I think its a good idea to have this kind of technology for our country’s (USA) defense to handle incomming multiple enemy;s ICBM especially when North Korea and Iran threat aside from other wars we already have. North Kprea issued a threat of nuclear strike today while we are having a US-South Korea naval practices. We needed to deploy this defenses immidiately to our country’s perimeter borders before its too late.

  • mosesgt

    Great idea. $50,000 to stop a $500 rocket. I’m sure the Arabs can’t figure out how to defeat that system. We defiantely should fund this one for them.

    • Palhod 50

      You forget that the $500 rocket can easily cause over $50,000 worth of damage, not to mention the threat to life.

      According to your logic then armored vehicles are a loss too because all it takes is a $500 IED to wreck a $250,000 vehicles. The point of the $250,000 vehicle is to protect the lives of those within, the same as this anti-missile system.

  • blight

    I wonder if long-range mortars would be of any use for Hamas if attempting to shell Israel with Iron Dome. Mortars won’t have the range of missiles, so I suppose that’s the big deal killer.

    Where possible I suspect Hezbollah will have to compensate by moving launch platforms forward and accepting some degree of risk; or use launch sites as AA traps. If Iran/Syria are shipping them modern anti-air equipment, we could have a Yom Kippur repeat where the IAF gets shut down.

  • john smith

    Hamas is just another terrorist city they deserve to all die they have no friends so just stop bombing israel you have no life

  • anthony

    We are testing our weapons on this war also,just investing new things used against palitines, they should stop talking and have a ground war with Iran now that we have all this in house to use,,so well have work making more,
    I have noticed that since afgan,irak is slowing down or seems there are less new investing on side except ‘secret’

  • tiger

    Ronald Reagan’s vision of missile defense was made fun of at the time. In 2012, The reality is saving lives in Israel today.

    • blight_

      Star Wars was a full suite of counter-ICBM systems. Most of the fun comes from trying to destroy nukes in early launch via satellite.

      Terminal defense was never a problem, especially if you accepted the risks and used a interceptor with a nuclear warhead to make the accuracy problem that much easier (as done by the US and USSR).

      NMD and its hit a bullet with a bullet is still a fairly difficult problem…

      Local TMD was probably fuddled with, but not taken seriously until GW1. All it takes is a few Scuds an a McGyver fix to the Patriots to scare people and make them realize that you need a defense against short ranged ballistic missiles, and not just the IRBMs and ICBMs…