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Israel’s Air Defense Systems

How one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world works
A video about how the Iron Dome works
Source: Israel Defense Forces
A photo of an Iron Dome launcher

The Iron Dome, and the newly developed Iron Beam, are the keystones in Israel’s air defense, protecting it from attack by its neighbors. The Iron Dome has been in operation since 2011 and uses RADAR (which stands for RAdio Detection And Ranging) to find and eliminate its targets. The Iron Beam, on the other hand, is not currently in use but is expected to begin combat usage later this year or in 2025. Both of these have been have been put to the test (quite literally in the case of the Iron Beam) as HAMAS, a terrorist organization, has been firing rockets into Israel.

The Iron Dome itself is Israel’s country-wide air defense system, using counter-projectile missiles to intercept things it knows are going to hit population-dense areas. If it expects a projectile to hit an uninhabited area, it will not fire. Overall, the Iron Dome has a hit rate of 90%, with a range of roughly 43 miles. However, the Iron Dome does have weaknesses. One of them is the chance that it could be overwhelmed by waves of incoming missiles, and it is extremely expensive to use, costing around $40,000 to $80,000 per interception, a reason why the Israeli government is looking into transitioning to the Iron Beam.

The Iron Beam is Israel’s newer air defense platform, using lasers instead of a physical projectile to bring down its targets. The platform uses a 100Kw (Kilowatt) laser focused to a point around a coin in diameter to hit missiles and other munitions at a range of up to nineteen Kilometers (or twelve Miles). One of its major upsides is that it only costs roughly two-to-four dollars per shot. However, it too has drawbacks, its main one being it has to lock onto a single target for multiple seconds, and could be rendered useless if the missiles it is trying to shoot down are sheathed in a heat-resistant material.

All in all, the Iron Dome and the soon-to-be Iron Beam make up one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world, with it also having to contend with major missile attacks, mainly from its neighbors and from HAMAS, which is probably the main reason why it was developed in the first place.


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