Israel’s Iron Dome defense system appears to be unable to do what it was intended to do. As recently as July, its developer Raphael Systems, was insisting that Iron dome could be used to protect boder settlements from rocket attacks.
Early critics of the systems have pointed out that if the purpose of Iron Dome was to protect the border communities like Sderot, the system could not work because the response time exceeded the time that it takes a rocket to reach Sderot from Gaza.
Implementation of the system has been delayed because officials claim it is difficult to take such a complicated system and turn it into a usable weapon. In fact, the system has been placed in storage until 2011. While the ineffectiveness of the system has always been denied, the decision recently to place the system in storage at an Israeli Air Force base in central Israel, is a tacit admission that the system is useless for protecting Sderot, although another story has been concocted.
Could this be a massive waste of money for American taxpayers, who funded Iron Dome, at a time when the US economy was in trouble, and budget deficits skyrocketing? In May, Barack Obama had asked both houses to approve $205 additional millions for the Iron Dome project, which was passed.
Ultimately the US funding will provide nine Iron Dome systems for Israel, but it is isn’t clear that these would provide any value whatsoever. Jonathan Cook, writing in CounterPunch, has pointed out that it would cost $1 billion to produce 20 batteries of Iron Dome missiles, and that even that number of batteries would not protect many key targets.
While the program was sold to the Israeli and American publics as a way to protect border populations from rocket attacks, the military is now claiming that it is a higher priority to protect air bases from rocket attack, some thing that hasn’t been a problem in the past.This seems to be sidestepping the original desire to protect border communities, and is probably a way to avoid admitting that the system costing hundreds of millions, doesn’t work as intended.
In fact, cost is the big issue. The Strategy Page has pointed out that they are much too expensive to use against Quassam rockets, and numerically too few to intercept an enduring attack of cheap Quassam rockets. Retired Israeli Hanna has pointed out that Iron Dome is only useful for defending high value targets and could quickly be overwhelmed by a concentrated attack of many missiles.
Raphael, the producer of the Iron Dome technology, is spinning off the technology to produce other missile systems like the ‘Iron Flame’ surface to surface missile which appears to be a military offensive weapon, rather than being intended for defence.