The "Iron Dome" is recognized as one of the most powerful air defense systems in the world.
Among many shortcomings of the Israeli security system exposed during the Hamas attack, particular attention is drawn to the apparent inability of the "Iron Dome" system, believed to be one of the world's top air defense systems, to neutralize attacking missiles.
The Israeli "Iron Dome" system is widely acknowledged as one of the most potent air defense systems globally. Initially developed to counter threats of short-range missiles from Gaza and southern Lebanon, it demonstrated its effectiveness by intercepting thousands of rockets since its deployment in 2011.
According to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the "Iron Dome" is designed to counter multiple threats simultaneously. Its interception success rate is impressive, ranging from 90 to 96 percent of intercepted projectiles, making it the most effective system globally.
However, Hamas was able to "neutralize" the anti-missile system during the invasion, raising numerous questions. Was the "Iron Dome" overestimated, or was it destroyed by Hamas missiles? Will countries now hesitate to purchase defense systems from Israel, which was the 10th largest arms exporter in the world in 2022?
Moreover, the "Iron Dome" has become a symbol of the Israeli defense industry, and its components generated significant interest in the arms market.
Parts of the "Iron Dome" have been sold to countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Finland, the Czech Republic, and the UAE. Azerbaijan acquired its version of the Israeli "Iron Dome" in May 2021.
Any export of this anti-missile system to a third country requires Washington's approval since it was developed in collaboration with the United States.
This towable truck-based system consists of three main components: the launcher and its interceptors, a ground-based multifunctional radar, and a control system. It intercepts missiles using its interceptor rockets and utilizes radar for detection and tracking. The cost of one interceptor rocket is around $60,000, and the system automatically selects the necessary targets. The radar system assesses the level of threat posed by the flying object, launching an interceptor rocket if the missile's trajectory would land it in a populated area; otherwise, the rocket is ignored.
With all these variables in mind, the question arises: why was the "Iron Dome" so ineffective against Hamas missile launches?
As many experts emphasize, the design of the "Iron Dome" prioritizes dealing with the most dangerous missiles, such as winged rockets, over smaller projectiles.
It is worth noting that the scale of the attack overwhelmed the "Iron Dome." From the Gaza Strip alone, 5,000 rockets were fired on October 7.
Additionally, Hamas was reportedly employing a new rocket system called "Rajum," making interception more challenging. Alongside rocket attacks, thousands of drones laden with conventional grenades and mines disrupted Israeli airspace.
Hamas and its primary supporter, Iran, seem to have learned from the past when the previous Hamas rocket attacks were effectively thwarted by anti-missile defenses. Consequently, their main tactic shifted to launching hundreds of rockets in rapid succession to saturate the "Iron Dome's" computer systems.
Moreover, the cost of these Hamas rockets made from plumbing pipes and reactive chemical elements is significantly lower, ranging from $300 to $800.
Considering the arguments presented above, it is safe to say that the Israeli "Iron Dome" may prove inadequate for defending a more extensive territory against an overwhelming number of rockets, even if the latter are cheaper and have fewer capabilities. However, the issue here is about quantity, not quality, and it would be premature to conclude that the "Iron Dome" is doomed.