Tactical Weapons Firearms

IDF used ‘Iron Sting’ in combat for first time

IDF ground battalions lack organic precision indirect fire systems to respond to individual targets; that's where Iron Sting comes in.
Miguel Ortiz Avatar
iron sting system in flight.
(Elbit Systems)

Precision fires is a critical aspect of modern warfare. Delivering munitions directly to a target limits collateral damage while also maximizing the efficiency of the fighting force. Employing weapons with a high degree of accuracy is especially important to the Israel Defense Forces, who face an enemy that hides within civilian, urban environments. While laser-guided precision bombs are regularly employed by the Israeli Air Force, IDF ground battalions lack organic precision indirect fire systems to respond to individual targets of opportunity; that’s where Iron Sting comes in.

Iron Sting provides organic precision fires to ground forces
Iron Sting provides organic precision fires to ground forces (Elbit Systems)

Revealed on March 14, 2021, Iron Sting is a precision laser and GPS-guided 120mm mortar munition. This combination allows the weapon to impact a specific target up to 12km away while also being able to penetrate double-reinforced concrete. “The technology made available to the IDF by Israeli industries changes the battlefield and provides our forces with more accurate and effective means,” said then-Defense Minister Benny Gantz in the 2021 press release that revealed Iron Sting. “It also fulfills the IDF’s needs, adapting combat capabilities to contend with enemies hidden within civilian, urban environments, while meeting the legal and moral standards set by the State of Israel.”

Prior to being revealed, Iron Sting underwent final trials at a testing site in southern Israel. The munition was fired from a Cardom 120mm Recoil Mortar System; one mounted on an M113 APC and another on a Hummer 4×4 SUV as reported by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Both Iron Sting and the Cardom were developed by Israeli defense company Elbit Systems. Ten years of research and development culminated in the final tests that saw the impact directly on its intended target with unparalleled accuracy. After the successful tests, Iron Sting entered serial production to equip the IDF.

Following the Hamas terror attacks on October 7, 2023, the IDF responded with strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. On October 22, 2023, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed that Iron Sting was used in combat for the first time. The precision mortar was employed by the IDF’s Maglan unit to hit Hamas rocket launchers in the Gaza Strip. In conjunction with airstrikes, the engagement eliminated dozens of Hamas terrorists as reported by the IDF. An unguided 120mm mortar has an accuracy of 136 meters while precision position and pointing systems can reduce this to 76 meters. The IDF reports that Iron Sting has a maximum deviation level of just 10 meters in 90% of cases.