Israel’s Ministry of Defense, Rafael, and IAI have completed testing the C-Dome air and missile defense system onboard Israel’s Navy Magen corvette, the lead ship of the Saar-6 Magen class.

The test conducted in February 2022 included the interception of targets simulating rockets, cruise missiles, and drones launched from the shore, simulating realistic threats the vessels could face at sea and on missions protecting Israel’s offshore facilities in the Mediterranean Sea.

The tests included the first deployment of C-Dome’s integral missile Vertical Launch Unit (VLU) for the Tamir interceptor missiles. Unlike the land-based Iron Dome Container-Launcher Unit (CLU) that maintains a fixed slant position, the C-Dome is integral to the ship and stores up to 10 missiles below deck in a sealed vertical launcher. This launch method provides instantaneous 360 degrees coverage, increasing the agility of the missile.

According to Rafael, C-Dome is built with a modular system architecture to gain a small footprint and rapid integration in large or small ships, such as these corvettes and offshore patrol vessels (OPVs). Having a high rate of turn the Tamir interceptor is extremely agile, and can outmaneuver most aerial targets, which makes it suitable for point defense of offshore facilities and naval vessels.

Israel Navy Magen (Saar 6) corvette tests the Rafael C-Dome point defense air and missile defense system. Photo: IMOD

The C-Dome 10-cell VLU will be placed side by side with IAI’s Barak-MX interceptors that will extend the ship’s defense over a longer range and larger areas. The vessel uses four faces of the IAI MF-STAR (Adir) active electronic scanning radar placed on the main and rear mast.

The C-Dome test was the first in a series of tests examining the ship’s operational capability. Additional systems will include the Barak MX and Leonardo 76mm rapid-fire gun turret that hasn’t been placed yet.

Tamir interceptor missile launched from the deck of INS Magen. Photo: IMOD
The IAI MF-STAR (ADIR) radar is installed on the main mast. Four such panels are installed on the ship, forming a multi-function electronically scanned array radar that provides early warning and target acquisition for the missiles, while searching the full hemisphere for other targets and threats. Photo: IMOD
An aft view showing the Magen’s fourth ADIR radar panel mounted on the rear mast. It completes the 360-degree coverage of the ship’s ADIR radar. The ADIR is a smaller version of the MF-STAR radar, a family of radars developed for the Barak-8 air defense missile system designed for large combatant ships. Photo: IMOD
The Tamir missile is stored under the deck in sealed canisters. The VLU is designed to withstand ‘hot-launch’, enabling rocket ignition inside the launcher. The hot gases are diverted through vents to protect the missile upon ignition. Photo: IMOD