Posts Tagged Iron Dome

Israeli government arms company scores big on eve of Canadian election

In the dying days of the Harper government, days before the election call, Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney announced a plan to give Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) a large contract with the Canadian Department of Defense. IAI (which is wholly owned by the Israeli government) co-produces the Iron Dome missile defence system, along with Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, also an Israeli government corporation. Iron Dome is a radar system that allows Israeli military forces to detect and shoot down the primitive rockets fired at Israel by militants in occupied Gaza. It has been criticised as having limited coverage, and being very expensive. Its development was largely financed by US subsidies, which were always controversial because of the cost.

The $250,000,000 plan would buy technology from the  Israeli arms company for Iron Dome-based radar technology related to ‘incoming threats to Canadian forces’. The exact nature of the technology is ambiguous, and there was little to indicate that the Canadian government was in the market for the technology prior to the plan being announced. It is uncertain what incoming threats that Canadian forces would face in the realistic scenarios they might be faced with. While Iron Dome is effective at downing relatively slow rockets fired at a distance, it hasn’t in the past worked for rockets fired at close range and might not work for faster missiles. In its recent deployment in Afghanistan most ‘incoming’ threats were rifle fire and mortar rounds, not rockets.

There appears to have been no call for proposals, and no plan for competitive bidding. The actual contract would be carried out largely by Rheinmetail Canada, a German company without much record of activity in Canada.

Developers of Iron Dome have been searching for money to develop further the technology underlying Iron Dome for a variety of purposes. A US Senate report has called for more technology transfer to the US, if it is to continue to fund the project.  It is hard to avoid the implication that Canadian government money will be used to further develop Israeli proprietary technology, without Canadian equity participation, and without safeguards to prevent the technology being used in the continuing illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. Was it part of a backroom deal to subsidise Israel’s arms trade, as US funding becomes less reliable?

While the deal was covered in a variety of Israeli mainstream news sources, and Canadian Jewish media, it was not covered by Canadian media, despite the controversial timing of the deal and the size of the contract.

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Israel scores big arms deal from Canadian supporters. More to follow?

The government of Canada has announced that it is spending a quarter billion Canadian dollars to purchase ‘Iron Dome’ technology created by two Israeli arms companies. Iron Dome is the missile detection and response system used by Israel in response to objects lobbed at Israel from occupied Palestine.

The very expensive system has been massively subsidised by the US, and Israeli officials have been asking for more money to be spent on development of the system, which has many flaws. The Canadian purchase will no doubt provide a cash influx that can be used to develop the system further.

Iron Dome was developed by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and Israeli Aerospace Industries, an arms company wholly owned by the state of Israel.  Sales by Israeli arms companies are often touted as technology transfers to the purchaser, but are also technology transfers to the apartheid state, since Israeli government and corporate players gain access to sensitive customer secrets and technology.

The radar technology will be provided to Canada by Rheinmetall Defence and Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israeli Aerospace Industries, in a contract expected to begin in 2017. Rheinmetall Canada also works with the giant private Israeli arms company Elbit Systems, nominally the biggest competitor of Israeli Aerospace Industries in other areas of the arms trade. Rheinmetall has registered for lobbying activities in the past with the Canadian government.

No justification for the purchase was given by the government of Canada in its press release, but it is widely known that elements of the Canadian cabinet are strong supporters of the right wing Netanyahu regime. The Canadian military wants to purchase Predator drones from an American company, but with Canadian cabinet support strong for Israel, it is very possible that the contract for drone purchase will also be from an Israeli company.

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Iron Dome Shoots Down Some Rockets, But At What Cost?

Ha’aretz reports that Iron Dome missiles have shot down eight rockets fired from Gaza, the most recent on Saturday, 9 April, 2011. Israeli forces claimed that 38 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Saturday. Apparently 70 were fired in the whole exhange.

It would appear that the rockets targeted are ‘Grad’ rockets fired at the town of Ashkelon since Iron Dome only works if it has a long lead time.

Iron Dome has been criticised for not being capable of responding to the threat of rockets because it isn’t quick enough to intercept rockets fired from nearby. Also, each Iron Dome missile costs many times the price of a rocket, so the cost of Iron Dome is very high. (BBC reports that each Iron Dome missile costs $70,000. Ynet reports that two missiles were fired to make the successful interception). In the recent exchange the cost could have been been about $1,120,000 and the rate of interception about 10%. That’s if eight rockets were intercepted as per the Ha’aretz article. Other sources only mention one rocket intercepted, which is a success rate of less than 2%.

In this light, it is possible to suggest that Iron Dome has been deployed primarily as a public relations gesture to Israeli residents, because it unrealistic to believe that the Israeli military would or could shoot down more than a small percentage of rockets. This was apparent from early in the project, yet the Israeli government continued to say that it could protect the residents of Sderot with this programme. In reality they are only able to protect further away communities like Ashkelon.

Clearly the cost of the programme is so high and the capability so limited that Israeli military cannot realistically protect the residents of Southern Israel from rocket attacks. Israelis have been sold a bill of goods and led to believe that there could be such a thing as an ‘Iron Dome’ over them.

Meanwhile an arms company has benefited from a very large contract, and the government has minimised pressure from residents.

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Iron Dome Boondoggle Update

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.

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Iron Dome boondoggle gets extra US funding.

In May, 2010 Haaretz reported that the US Congress had okayed a Obama decision to grant Israel USD204 million in aid to build Iron Dome batteries. This would be in addition to the USD 3 Billion in military aid that the US grants Israel each year. The vast majority of members of Congress voted in favour of the measure (400-4), with little debate.

This despite no compelling evidence that Iron Dome will accomplish anything useful. Is this just another US government subsidy to the powerful people in both the US and Israeli military establishments, which tend to benefit financially and in other ways from continuously large military expenditures? In both countries there is a revolving door between the armed forces and the arms industry, as well as government itself. Particularly in Israel, former armed forces personnel enrich themselves as members of the burgeoning arms industry. Many of these maintain their connections in the Israeli military, possibly as a way to stay in touch with the military establishment.
As pointed out by a comment writer to Haaretz, Iron Dome missiles cannot protect Israeli communities near the Israeli border, because missiles launched from Gaza or Lebanon take as little as 14 seconds between launch and landing, while the Iron Dome interceptor missiles take much longer to intercept. Furthermore the interceptor rockets cost as much as $100,000 each while the Qassam rockets and similar cost only a few dollars. So using Iron Dome can quickly bankrupt the Israeli military, while enriching the arms company which supplies Iron Dome technology.
Iron Dome seems to be another of a series of boondoggles perpetrated on the Israeli people by their military/industrial cabal.

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Iron Dome Doesn’t Help Sderot

In Israel, like many countries with very large  arms industries, there is a close relationship between the government, the defense department and the industry, with the former often acting to promote the interests of the private arms industry.

Politically it was very important in the last few years for the Israeli government to ‘protect’ the residents of Sderot, in Israeli territory near the Gaza strip, who were being attacked by Qassam rockets fired from Gaza.

Residents of Sderot were promised a ‘missile defense shield’ that would protect them from Qassam rockets and money was awarded to Rafael Advanced Defence Systems to build one. Indeed a working system was completed in just two and a half years. However the IDF purchased only one system, at a cost of $50 million, then promptly put it into storage in the north of the country saying that it would be used to protect the frontier with Lebanon. It did not announce plans to purchase additional batteries.

Two theories have been advanced for this abrupt change of policy.

First, it has been pointed out that the Iron Dome system supplied by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems could not possibly defend Sderot from Qassam rockets fired from Gaza because the time it takes for a rocket to arrive in Sderot is far to short to allow the Iron Dome system to be activated. Iron Dome would only work where the lead times are greater, perhaps on the front with Lebanon.(It has also been pointed out that Israel could have purchased ‘off the shelf’ defence systems from the US, which used lasers and therefore had much shorter activation times, and were cheaper.

Second, it has been suggested that the plan to provide a ‘shield’ for Sderot was simply an excuse to commence a weapons development programme, with the real goal to sell the system to an offshore client, specifically Singapore. It was recently announced that Singapore would buy xx units of the system.

(Additional information from article by Lars Olberg, in Missile Monitor).

So were the citizens of Sderot betrayed by their government, who used their situation to justify a weapons development system that could not possibly benefit them?

Did Singapore believe that Israel was building a workable system for itself, when in reality the system is of little use for Israel and is more expensive than better alternatives?

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Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ Technology Sold to Singapore

Haaretz has recently reported that Israeli companies have sold Singapore missile defense shield technology, the ‘Iron Dome’. Haaretz reported that ‘Intelligence Online’ reported that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems had received financing for development of the Iron Dome technology in return for receiving several Iron Dome systems to deploy in Singapore. It reportedly cost $250 million to develop.

Israel and Singapore have long standing military links after Singapore asked Israel for help in developing its army after the IDF model, which was done, in the 1960’s.

As a result, Singapore has made many purchases of military equipment and technology from Israeli companies, including Hermes 450 drones from Elbit Systems, Barak surface to air missiles from IAI, naval drones from Rafael, fighter jet upgrading by an unnamed company.

Haaretz announced in January, 2010, that Iron Dome had been successfully tested and that one system was deployed. The article speculated about when additional systems would be purchased and estimated that 20 systems would required at a cost of $50 million each, or $1 billion.

There was speculation however that the Iron Dome project was developed entirely for Singapore, rather than as an offshoot of an Israeli defense project. Apparently much cheaper missile defense technology is available from an American company, the Vulcan Phalanx/Centurion cannon system supplied by Raytheon.

Was this is an issue because Israeli government financial resources were used in the development of the product, which was ultimately unneeded by the IDF? Only one system has been purchased, and there is no budget for buying more.

Or it may just be an illustration of how the IDF, government,  and the Israeli arms companies work together, often in secrecy, to maximise Israeli arms sales.

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