Israel Says Iron Dome Ready For Deployment; IDF Balks at Price Tag

With considerable fanfare unusual for the highly secretive Israeli military, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday that the “Iron Dome” counter-rocket artillery mortar system was ready for operational deployment. Iron Dome combines detection and tracking radars with vertically launched guided interceptor missiles to blow out of the air incoming Katyusha rockets, which Hezbollah rained down on northern Israel in summer 2006, as well as smaller mortar rounds, launched with some frequency from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns.

The first two Iron Dome batteries will be deployed in November, the ministry said. Iron Dome has been in development for years, but was fast-tracked after the 2006 Lebanon War and the Gaza Strip war against Hamas 18 months ago. It is supposed to form the lowest level of a multi-tiered defensive system, targeting rockets, mortars and artillery rounds out to 70 kilometers; the Arrow anti-ballistic missile would form the top tier and tackle Scuds and the like.

An article in Israel’s Haaretz quotes an anonymous defense official gushing over the system’s performance in the recent tests:

Iron Dome, he said, when “faced with a volley of Grad-type Katyushas, fires a counter-volley and the interceptors are required to select and intercept specific Grads in this flying pack. It looked impossible, but they did the impossible,” he said. “Every missile picked the specific Grad it was asked to select and destroyed it. There’s no doubt this is historic.”

The Obama administration committed some $205 million to the system’s development this year. “Iron Dome fills a gap in Israel’s multi-tiered defense system,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro, speaking at Brookings earlier this month. “Israel has conducted thorough tests of Iron Dome components and we’ve conducted an evaluation of our own. We are confident that Iron Dome will provide improved defense for the people of Israel.”

Yet, the IDF is reluctant to buy it, grumbling over the cost of each Iron Dome intercept, estimated at nearly $50,000, compared to the estimated $500 cost of a Palestinian rocket. Press reports put Iron Dome development costs at $250 million, with each battery costing about $50 million.

Haaretz says IDF deputy chief of staff Benny Gantz was impressed with the Iron Dome tests, but thinks other countries should pick up the tab for the system, rather than have it come out of the IDF’s budget.

— Greg Grant

Image: Rafael

23 Comments on "Israel Says Iron Dome Ready For Deployment; IDF Balks at Price Tag"

  1. Then someone should tell Benny to save his money and field the MTHEL.

  2. The problemwith Iron Dome is that, because Hamas and Hezbollah field rockets that are much cheaper than the Israeli interceptor, they can field hundreds of rockets for every israeli interceptor. I've read in some sources that Iran and Syria have supplied Hezbollah with many 120mm rockets. These are have a much shorter range and less destructive power than the 220 and 230 mm varieties which Hezbollah employed en masse in 2006, but they are also much cheaper and simpler to operate. If another war breaks out, I would suspect that Hezbollah and Hamas would fire volleys of their most primitive rockets first in order to exhaust Israel's supply of interceptor missiles before switching to longer range and more accurate rockets.

  3. That is definitely a wise strategy. But the more rockets they fire, the more difficult it will be for them to hide from a counterattack.

  4. Not getting how Benny Gantz expects other countries to pay for Israel's defense instead of the IDF.

  5. Israel's done a lot of technology exchange with China.
    Give some Chinese contract manufacturer the plans and they'll pump 'em out for $1000.00/per!

  6. I'd save it for very destructive missiles only such as Iranian long range ballistic missiles. Save it for only the most dangerous threats. Everything should be countered with a less expensive system. Although, I'm sure the US would like to have this system so maybe we could work out a deal here. The tech will get cheaper over time. I think it was unwise to flaunt this technology in the worlds face, especially with Iran watching. Iran has a close relationship with China and if CHina acquired this technology I suspect Iran would too and find a way to counter it. However I hope the Israeli Intelligence Agancy and IDF know what they're doing by bragging about it.

  7. Go Israel, Go with this Big time, must for All cities & now add recent Laser units that killed 2 drones in tests.

  8. Israel could have bought the C-RAMS ages ago and chose not to, now they're saying that Iron Dome is too expensive…

    Guess its more worthwhile to let the missiles land and then spend millions of dollars in strike packages that'll cause a high level of civilian casulties and alienate more of the world against Israel eh?

  9. No chance of CIWS working as ultra close in, even if you pair it with a longer-ranged gun? Granted, you'd need lots of batteries for coverage, but rounds are economical in comparison to missiles…and you can always turn them on ground targets if you need to.

  10. Another $205 million of the taxpayer's money wasted on a terrorist state.

  11. The General needn't worry. I'm sure Americans will do as we are told and fund whatever the Israelis want – As Netanyahu says when the Israelis want something the American know where their place is.

  12. Wow..this is interesting…I'm sure Ben knows this quite well.

  13. MacGyver - Sr. | July 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm |

    Sounds like a good system for S. Korea, being so close to the North.

  14. amtho93944 | July 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm |

    As much as I agree with what Israel is doing and how they are doing it, I think we should think about the USS Liberty (which they never apologized for) before we start the love fest.

  15. The main reason the US pays part of the cost is to keep Israel on a short leash – without US funding countermeasures the cheaper way of dealing with the missile threat would be to bomb the launch areas and send ground troops to destroy the factories and kill the terrorists (the method the Allies used to stop the Nazi V1 and V2 threat). That would require occupying Gaza, collateral damage, lots of bad press, and rage from the muslim street. All that would undermine what is left of the "peace process", which is a central US foreign policy interest. So we are paying to protect our interest and lots of civilians and both sides.

  16. amtho93944 – The Israelis did apologize for the liberty accident. US Navy Command had told Israel there were no American ships in the war zone, and had ordered the Liberty to leave – someone missed the message.

  17. ShotgunSassy | July 23, 2010 at 3:07 am |

    I will back Israel any day!! Don't ever underestimate/undermind them……….I know who has their back and only a fool(evil-terrorist-) would attempt such an attack. You mark my word……..those are God's people and his land………just step back and watch what happens—It will be like David and Goliath all over again!!

  18. I think its a good idea to have this kind of technology for our country's (USA) defense to handle incomming multiple enemy;s ICBM especially when North Korea and Iran threat aside from other wars we already have. North Kprea issued a threat of nuclear strike today while we are having a US-South Korea naval practices. We needed to deploy this defenses immidiately to our country's perimeter borders before its too late.

  19. Great idea. $50,000 to stop a $500 rocket. I'm sure the Arabs can't figure out how to defeat that system. We defiantely should fund this one for them.

  20. I wonder if long-range mortars would be of any use for Hamas if attempting to shell Israel with Iron Dome. Mortars won't have the range of missiles, so I suppose that's the big deal killer.

    Where possible I suspect Hezbollah will have to compensate by moving launch platforms forward and accepting some degree of risk; or use launch sites as AA traps. If Iran/Syria are shipping them modern anti-air equipment, we could have a Yom Kippur repeat where the IAF gets shut down.

  21. Hamas is just another terrorist city they deserve to all die they have no friends so just stop bombing israel you have no life

  22. We are testing our weapons on this war also,just investing new things used against palitines, they should stop talking and have a ground war with Iran now that we have all this in house to use,,so well have work making more,
    I have noticed that since afgan,irak is slowing down or seems there are less new investing on side except 'secret'

  23. Ronald Reagan's vision of missile defense was made fun of at the time. In 2012, The reality is saving lives in Israel today.

Comments are closed.