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MIGHTY TACTICAL
Ellen Ioanes

Here's how the US's new battle-proven Iron Dome destroys rockets

(Israel Defense Forces)

The US Army has purchased two Iron Dome defense systems, Defense News reports. The missile defense systems are short-range counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) weapons systems that have been repeatedly tested by Hamas rockets fired into Israeli territory. The system's radar detects incoming projectiles and tracking them until they get in range for one of the Iron Dome's Tamir missiles to strike.

Israel has said the system intercepted 85 percent of the rockets fired in a 2012 Gaza operation. One expert assessed that Iron Dome is effective, but not as high as Israel has claimed.

It's unclear how or where the US is planning to deploy these systems, but Defense News reported that they'll be used in the military's interim cruise missile defense capability. A delivery date — and the cost of the system — are not yet known.

Read on to learn more about the Iron Dome system.


  • The Iron Dome is a counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) weapons system that can also defend against helicopters and other aircraft, as well as UAVs at very short range, according to its Israeli manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Ten of the systems are currently in use in Israel.
  • Iron Dome has different variants — the I-DOME is fully mobile and fits on a single truck, and the C-DOME is the naval version of the system. The US version, called SKYHUNTER, is manufactured by Rafael and Raytheon.

A rocket is launched from the Iron Dome.

(Israel Defense Forces)

Sources: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Raytheon

  • Iron Dome can operate in all weather conditions and at any time; one launcher holds 20 intercept missiles at a given time. The system uses a radar to detect an incoming projectile. The radar tracks the projectile while also alerting the other system components — the battle management and weapons control (BMC) component and the launcher — of the incoming threat. It also estimates where incoming projectiles will hit and only focuses on those threats that will fall in the area the system is meant to protect. Rafael boasts that this strategic targeting makes the system extremely cost-effective.
  • The system only targets rockets predicted to land in the protected zone, allowing ones that miss to pass by.

Trails are seen in the sky as an Iron Dome anti-missile projectile intercepts a rocket.

Source: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems

  • Rafael Advanced Defense Systems builds the Israeli Iron Dome defense system; the two US systems will be built by Rafael and Raytheon. Many of the components of Iron Dome's Tamir missiles are made by Raytheon in the US.

Source: Raytheon

  • Israel uses the Iron Dome to intercept rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. It's had the system in place since 2011.
  • The US is purchasing two Iron Domes, called Skyhunter in the US, for its interim cruise missile defense capability. It's unclear when the systems will be delivered, and how and where they will be deployed, but Defense News reported that parts of the system may be integrated into the Indirect Fires Protection Capability program.

Source: Defense News

  • The Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) is comparable to the Iron Dome, but instead of missiles, it rapid-fires bullets against incoming threats at sea and on land. The system is manufactured by Raytheon and employs a radar-guided gun that's controlled by a computer and counters anti-ship missiles at sea. On land, the Phalanx is part of the Army's C-RAM system. It's used on all Navy surface combatant ship classes.

A Phalanx close-in weapons system (CIWS) fires from the fantail of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in the Atlantic Ocean, June 7, 2016.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch)

Source: Raytheon

  • The Iron Dome is used in conjunction with David's Sling, which provides medium-range air defense and is produced by Rafael and Raytheon.

Source: Raytheon

  • Defense News reported on Aug. 12, 2019, that the US had purchased two Iron Dome systems, although it's unclear how much the Department of Defense paid for them, or where or how they will be deployed.
  • While the system has been very useful for Israel against more rudimentary Hamas- and Hezbollah-launched projectiles, it would be less so against weapons like hypersonic missiles, which can maneuver midflight.

Source: Defense News

  • The Tamir missiles, which Iron Dome uses in its launchers, are mostly manufactured from parts made in the US and can attack targets anywhere from 4 to 70 km away.

Source: Raytheon

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.