What began as a whimsical, sometimes mocked military concept has evolved and developed into an efficient missile defense system.
The Iron Dome was such a success in Israel against incoming rockets — and the U.S. Army was so convinced of the system’s ability to protect U.S. military personnel and material — that the military acquired two of the advanced missile defense systems from the Israel Ministry of Defense.
The first system was delivered in September and the second one last weekend, according to israelnationalnews.com.
“Deterrence means simply this: making sure any adversary who thinks about attacking the United States, or our allies, or our vital interests, concludes that the risks to him outweigh any potential gains. Once he understands that, he won’t attack. We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.”
SDI was designed to repel incoming threats from enemies by creating a shield to intercept incoming rockets and missiles and blow them out of the sky before they could hit their intended targets.
Reagan got out in front of space-aged warfare as a way to protect the United States from the “evil empire,” the Soviet Union.
The SDI was heavy on sub-atomic particle beams and X-rays to take out large-scale intercontinental ballistic missiles. It was quickly discovered that the power demand to build such a defense system was not achievable because of the financial and scientific constraints of the time.
Some say it failed, but if you ask Ken Adelman, director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under Reagan, SDI did its job.
“[It] was enough to scare Soviet leader Mikhael [sic] Gorbachev into reforms that would eventually bring down the Soviet Union. In short: “Star Wars” never worked as Reagan wished. It worked even better,” Adelman wrote in Politico Magazine in 2014.
After a few years, SDI changed course to include “land based kinetic energy weapons,” or guided missiles. While the SDI eventually fizzled out, few will argue that it established the blueprint for the Iron Dome Defense System.
The U.S. Army was able to judge the system’s effectiveness in 2019, as Israel was under full bombardment from the Hamas militia. During the missile attack, Business Insider said the system was reported to have had a stoppage rate of 86 percent.
Today, Israel has 10 full Iron Dome batteries placed throughout the country, according to the University of Navarra in Spain. So far, the Iron Dome system has intercepted 2,400 missiles, mostly from either Syria or the Gaza strip, over the 10 years the system has been operating, the The Times of Israel reported.
Since they are portable, they can move around the country, virtually eliminating the threat of being taken out. Each of the batteries is strategically placed around cities to intercept threats headed toward populated areas. The Iron Dome system can tell if incoming missiles actually are threatening the protected area. It ignores the ones that are off course and would not likely cause damage.
The Iron Dome is a joint effort between Israeli and U.S. defense contractors. Most of the projects missiles are made by Arizona-based Raytheon Missiles & Defense, with the remaining control units and radar tracking equipment made in Israel. The 12 tactical vehicles needed to carry the key strategic components are made by Oshkosh in Wisconsin. The final assembly takes place in Israel.
Instead of using it to protect against outside threats on its own land, like Israel, the U.S. Army is using the Iron Dome as an effective way of protecting its troops against the threat of guided missiles when it’s deployed on foreign soil.
It works day or night and in all weather conditions, including low clouds, rain, dust storms and fog, according to Raytheon.
The U.S. Army still has to see for itself how all this works. It soon will start testing the Iron Dome at New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range. The testing will simulate an actual scenario where a cruise missile — one with no explosive ordnance — will be directed at a preset target.
If all goes well, batteries will officially be stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, according to Stars and Stripes. They are expected to be available for operational deployment by late this year.
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