Monday, March 12, 2012

Israeli Missile Defense Analyzed

Iron Dome is impressive; but Israel would need a much more robust defense against Iranian and Hezbollah missile attacks, as Karl Vick explains:

Experts caution, however, that the skies are not nearly so clear as they seem. Israel has only three Iron Dome batteries, enough only to protect the cities closest to Gaza (Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be’er Sheva). At least three times as many would be needed to shield other population centers, and even with a special grant from Washington only three more are in the pipeline, for a total of six.

Nor is Israel’s umbrella against medium-range missiles yet on line. That system, known both as Magic Wand and David’s Sling, is due to deploy in about a year. It would aim to stop missiles fired from beyond about 50 miles, the outer range of Iron Dome. A third system, dubbed Arrow and already in operation, is designed to intercept ballistic missiles such as Iran’s Shahab-3.

“Magic Wand would be a great help, but it would not be enough,” says Yiftah Shapir, a retired Air Force intelligence officer at INSS. “No amount of defense is ever enough. Some rockets always get through.”

That they do. The last Israeli civilian killed by one had gone outside to see Iron Dome knock down the missile that slipped through the system and exploded on his street, killing him.

“Everybody still has to be in shelters,” notes Shapir. “The damage to the economy is just the same. Even if you have an Iron Dome protecting every town in Israel, children would not go to school. Their parents would not go to work. This is a major problem.”

Nor is it clear how well Iron Dome would perform in genuinely warlike conditions – that is, with missile barrages not in the dozens, but in the hundreds or even thousands.

Click here to read the whole article.