Blog Feed Post

Israel’s Iron Dome

Iron Dome

The politics of the conflict between Hamas and the State of Israel are well documented, and I’m sure you have already formed an opinion about who is at fault and what must be done. This article is not about any of that. It’s not about right or wrong, good or bad, politics or religion … it’s about a remarkable technology that is serving both a strategic and tactical purpose in an untenable, unsustainable situation.

In Arthur C. Clarke’s famous essay, “Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination” he offers a “law” of prediction that posits, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” If our imaginations don’t fail us, we can predict a defense system “so advanced” that enemy fire cannot penetrate it. Think of common arrows vs. suits of armor, or bombs vs. concrete-reinforced underground bunkers. That is the strategic idea behind Israel’s Iron Dome technology – protect Israel’s citizens and property by destroying enemy missiles in the air. Can Iron Dome technology really do that?

A Brief History

Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and first deployed by the Israeli Air Force in March 2011, the Iron Dome is a truck-towed mobile air defense system that counters short-range rockets and artillery shell threats. Able to work in any weather condition (including fog, dust, clouds and rain), the Iron Dome protects Israel’s northern and southern borders against rockets aimed at the country’s populated areas. Right now, it’s able to counter threats from about 40 miles away, but Israel wants to bump that up to about 160 miles – and also make it possible to take down missiles coming from two directions at once.

The Iron Dome was developed in the mid-2000s, after nearly 4,000 rockets landed in North Israel during the country’s second war with Lebanon in 2006. More than 4,000 additional rockets fired from Gaza landed in southern Israel between 2000 and 2007. After first coming up with the idea of an air defense system in February 2007, the first version was successfully tested in March 2009. In July 2010, the United States provided $205 million to help expand the effectiveness of the Iron Dome.

How it Works

The Iron Dome is built around three basic elements: radar, a missile firing unit and a battle management/weapon control system. After initially detecting a rocket launch, the Iron Dome monitors the rocket’s path, analyzes the threat and calculates the point of impact. If the rocket is headed for a congested area, the Iron Dome then launches an interceptor to try to detonate the threat over a neutral area.

How the Iron Dome Works

The Iron Dome is made up of “batteries,” which are trucks featuring radar and three launchers. By the end of 2012, Israel had five batteries. In September 2013, the country added a sixth. There are currently eight batteries protecting the country, but weapons scientist Richard Lloyd recently pointed to this number as one of the system’s major flaws – there just aren’t enough batteries to protect all of Israel.

The Iron Dome’s Shortcomings

It’s also unclear just how effective the Iron Dome actually is. In December 2011, The Jerusalem Post said the Iron Dome was successful in downing rockets from Gaza 75 percent of the time. Later, the Jerusalem Post reported that the system had improved to become 90 percent effective.

But then, in November 2012, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted that it had stopped 302 of the 846 rockets fired from Gaza; this figure far lower than 50 percent, but still effective in keeping out hundreds of missiles. This month, however, the IDF said it had intercepted just 27 percent of the 180 rockets fired at Israel from July 7-9.

Then again, those numbers may not necessarily be accurate. Bloomberg reports that Lloyd and “a handful of other outside experts, including Theodore Postol of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have been challenging the IDF’s assertions on Iron Dome’s success rate since at least 2012.” Even if the Iron Dome “intercepts” the missile, Lloyd says it may not manage to detonate its warhead in mid-air, meaning it’ll still cause major damage once it lands.

Other Forms of Missile Defense

While the Iron Dome has plenty of room for improvement, Israel has other systems in place to protect its citizens from rocket strikes. The country has a tremendous early-warning system to alert its citizens to incoming missile strikes, and it’s also constructed a network of shelters for its citizens to take cover in. These factors are major reasons why so few Israelis have died from missile strikes (at least, in comparison to the number of rockets Hamas has fired).

It’s this warning system and network of shelters that are saving most Israelis’ lives, according to Theodore Postol, a professor of science technology and national security policy at MIT. Postol estimates the Iron Dome’s success rate is less than 5 percent – far lower than just about every other estimate.

The Iron Dome’s true success rate probably lies somewhere between Postol’s 5 percent estimate and the IDF’s 90 percent figure – but at the time of this writing, statistics are fluid.

Technology, Strategy and Tactics

Today, Hamas is firing relatively unsophisticated short-range missiles at Israel. The strategy is to intercept them in the air. The tactics are to deploy eight mobile defensive Iron Dome batteries along the front and keep the enemy guessing as to their locations while neutralizing as many incoming missiles as possible. In practice, this will work until Hamas obtains more sophisticated weaponry.

One day, a more advanced version of Iron Dome technology may be capable of destroying every single incoming missile. While that day cannot come soon enough, it is sufficiently far enough in the future for us to need a quick, peaceful resolution. For everyone’s sake, I hope that peace finds a way.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

Latest Stories
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Kevin Jackson joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized cloud computing expert and Founder/Author of the award winning "Cloud Musings" blog. Mr. Jackson has also been recognized as a "Top 100 Cybersecurity Influencer and Brand" by Onalytica (2015), a Huffington Post "Top 100 Cloud Computing Experts on Twitter" (2013) and a "Top 50 C...
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve fu...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
Evan Kirstel is an internationally recognized thought leader and social media influencer in IoT (#1 in 2017), Cloud, Data Security (2016), Health Tech (#9 in 2017), Digital Health (#6 in 2016), B2B Marketing (#5 in 2015), AI, Smart Home, Digital (2017), IIoT (#1 in 2017) and Telecom/Wireless/5G. His connections are a "Who's Who" in these technologies, He is in the top 10 most mentioned/re-tweeted by CMOs and CIOs (2016) and have been recently named 5th most influential B2B marketeer in the US. H...