Regarding the missile attacks from Gaza and the Sinai, Norkin says that “every week we learn something new” about enemy tactics and Iron Dome capabilities.” Last year, the operational intercepts included an increasingly long series of firings and larger simultaneous launches.
“The last time, four Iron Dome units were engaged,” says Norkin. “The fourth battery was installed only two weeks before it was needed. Because of the [short] distances, the [IAF] never has much time.” In one phase of the missile attacks, there were over 200 rockets fired into Israel in two days.”
Norkin describes a big challenge in how to direct all the air defense units, like an orchestra, over such a small area like Gaza and Israel that border each other.
“We recognized in the last 2-3 years that it is much more important for active defense systems to be centralized than earlier anti-aircraft defenses,” says T. The command organization changed from units based on local and geographical tasks to a simpler construct of two wings and two missions.
One wing handles the anti-aircraft mission and the other—the 167th—has responsibility for an active defense. The concept is based on the operational reality that a global perspective is needed to defend the state of Israel from rockets and missiles that could come from anywhere.
Active defense has a new organization, staff and mission as well as an operational blueprint that serves as the compass for building the force, designing the capabilities and focusing the concept.
“The ballistic sky is split into two pieces, the upper and lower tiers,” says T. “It presents a great challenge to sharing all the same information, detection cues, targeting data, interception points, as well as the debris and other aftereffects that follow an interception. The solution is a centralized command and control that manages, coordinates and synchronizes the two tiers.”
Passive defense constitutes another crucial element, under the home-front command authority. That means protecting civilians and military personnel with bunkers and other structures wherever they are. There is also an offensive capability to provide counter-battery fire on launch sites. Yet another piece is early warning.
“You have to get the information [about an attack] out quickly . . . to the civilians and to ensure the time needed to attack the launch team,” says T. “The last piece is deterrence to ensure that if the enemy has the capability, he won't use it.”
More capabilities are envisioned.