Iron Dome Has Customers, Follow-Ons
11:18 AM on Jul 23, 2010
Rafael marketing vice-president Lova Drori says that the company's new Iron Dome counter-rocket system already has "quite a few" export customers, and that exports will start in parallel with deployment in Israel. As Noam Eshel reports in Ares, the system has completed its tests - after a remarkably short and intensive development program - and will be operational in November.
Iron Dome, originally designed to protect Israeli territory from rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza and elsewhere, has many other uses, Drori says. Those include the protection of critical infrastructure near the coast (Drori cites Japanese nuclear plants) and the defense of deployed military forces.
In the latter case, Rafael is proposing a combination of Iron Dome with the new Spike-NLOS high-precision, operator-in-loop missile, which has a similar range to the rocket weapons that Iron Dome is designed to destroy.
Drori says that Iron Dome is inherently superior to gun-based counter-rocket systems because it has a very high hit probability - 90 percent with one round and 99 percent with two - and because its specially developed, unique and still classified warhead "totally destroys" the incoming round. That eliminates the risk that a damaged rocket will miss its target but still cause casualties elsewhere.
"It's my personal belief," Drori says, that the basic technology in Iron Dome will find its way into new active defense systems for military vehicles, ships, helicopters and even aircraft. "Aircraft can no longer run away from missiles, either air-to-air or surface-to-air, and electronic warfare means are no longer good enough. But it should be easy to develop a small interceptor." Drori believes that an airborne missile interceptor system will be lighter, more practical and available sooner than a directed energy weapon.