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The Iron dome – Israel’s sophisticated missile defence system that intercepts rockets without human control

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What is it?

Iron Dome is an air missile defence system used by Israel to intercept and destroy short-range rockets, artillery shells and mortars fired from neighbouring hostile countries …. It can intercept missiles fired at a distance of 45 miles, to protect civilian areas in the path of such projectiles. 

How does it work?

It is a three-piece system of interceptor batteries that shoot rockets out of the sky. A radar tracks the rocket as it is fired across the border into Israel, and then advanced software predicts the rocket’s trajectory. The information it provides is used to guide Tamir interceptor missiles, which are fired from the ground to blow the rocket into harmless pieces in the sky. A unique feature of the iron dome is it does not just fire missile to intercept any rocket coming into israel , instead once the radar detects an incoming missile it will first of all calculate the trajectory path of the incoming missile to detect wether it will land on civilian or occupied area inside Israel ..if the calculation shows that the missile will affect residential areas then it will fire it’s own missile to intercept it , but if it detects that the incoming missile won’t affect residential area then it won’t fire anything.

Has it been hacked?

Evidence emerged in 2014 of a security breach at Rafael, the company that builds the Iron Dome’s rockets. Rafael at first confirmed that it had been attacked and then issued a denial, but security experts are confident that some data was stolen from the company. “The report seen by the BBC suggests sensitive data was taken from IAI [Israel Aerospace Industries] and that Rafael’s network was compromised, with hackers able to deactivate security software and harvest authentication data, including passwords,” the BBC reports. It said the attack was carried out using tools “known to originate from” China. It remains unclear what information was stolen and how, if at all, the system has been compromised.

How long has Israel been using it?

Iron Dome, built by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, was first used in March 2011 and made its first successful intervention the following month, when it intercepted a Grad rocket fired from Gaza. Jerusalem decided to build the system after a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah in 2006, when 4,000 rockets rained down on northern Israel, killing 44.

How much does it cost to run?

Each interception rocket costs around $95,000. Due to the cost, Israel usually uses it only against rockets destined for residential areas, rather than those headed for open ground. The cost of rebuilding infrastructure damaged by rockets can often exceed that of using the Iron Dome. The US has part-funded the system, pledging $429m towards the programme.

How effective is it?

After Israel clashed with Hamas during November 2012, Israeli officials claimed the system intercepted up to 85 per cent of the rockets fired from Gaza, although that number has been called into question. Some analysts in Israel have pointed out that as most rockets are invisible to the naked eye when in the sky, what is shown to the public could simply be footage of the Iron Dome missiles self-destructing in mid-air.

Bur other analysts state there is “no doubt” that the system works. And Time magazine’s defence expert Mark Thompson says the “lack of Israeli casualties suggests Iron Dome is the most effective, most tested missile shield the world has ever seen.”

How many rockets has it stopped this time around?

Israel says that almost 1,000 rockets have been fired into its territory by Palestinian militants since hostilities began on 8 July, and that 87 per cent of them have been intercepted and destroyed by Iron Dome.

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