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Apr 10, 2011

The Failure or Success of Iron Dome

The technology behind the new Iron Dome missile interception system is truly amazing. The fact that Israel was able to put this together is amazing.

At first I was skeptical. It seemed that despite the great success it has seen the past few days in intercepting 8 missiles from Gaza, it still was not worth it. For every missile intercepted, tens are still getting through. Is that really a success? Is that worth the price tag, with so many missiles getting through?

Then I read that the whole system is still experimental. The decisions which missiles and rockets to shoot down are still being made manually, and they are deciding which missiles are worth shooting. if one is expected to land in an empty area, they don't bother shooting it down. So, yes, now it seems a bit better. At least it is not missing, or it is activating on every attack, and it is simply the human operators choosing not to use it at times.

The only problem I still have with it is the idea of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to knock down rockets made from $15 worth of spare parts. Economically, it makes little sense. However, if the government is not going to take action to root out the terrorists, to destroy their capability of shooting rockets at us, then I guess this is something they have to do even at ridiculous costs.


  1. Why should the value of the system be dependent on the price of each intercepted missile? Why don't you look at the more relevant figure of how much damage each intercepted missile could have done?

    According to your assessment, more effort and money should be put into stopping a suicide bomber with an expensive explosive device than should be to stop a suicide bomber with a cheaper, but equally deadly and damaging, explosive.

    It may be ironic that we have to spend so much money to stop such inexpensive missiles (if they really are so inexpesive to produce; I'm not sure it's really the case). But that in no way impacts the worth of the system.

  2. I have to agree with Rafi, this is not a solution. What is to stop Hamas from bankrupting the nation by launching cheap rockets?

  3. You're missing something big, really big. Thanks to Hamas, Rafael (the manufacturer of Iron Dome) has gotten an incredible amount of free advertising over the past few days. Sales of these systems could easily be in the Billions.

    Further, there is the psychological impact on our enemies as the come realize that we have a way to defend against this threat.

    And most importantly IMO, again thanks to Hamas, we are merely field testing this type of system. Ultimately, the same technology should be able to protect us from Iran's nuclear ballistic missiles. That protection, and money spent to get there, is priceless.

    Hopefully, in the not too distant future we'll have some type of "force field" that is a combination of these kinetic defense systems and lasers.

  4. thought - with the success of the Iron Dome system on display, will we lose our "right" to retaliate and go on the offensive at any given point? Now the world, the UN, the USA, Europe, whoever, will be able to say you no longer have the need for such offensives, as you can simply deploy the iron dome system.

    will this happen? does it matter, as they never like it when we go on an offensive anyway?


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