While the first Iron Dome battalion continues its training toward achieving Initial Operational Capability, the military is reluctant to deploy them in positions protecting population centers near the Gaza strip as originally planned. Instead, the single system currently available will be stored at a central IAF base, ready for dispatch at short notice, to protect strategic targets or population centers that may come under attack by enemy short range rockets.
Preparation of the Iron Dome battalion has taken more time than originally planned, as training the crew manning these new systems has proven more complex than anticipated. The IDF has ordered two Iron Dome batteries, and the U.S. has agreed to fund the procurement of nine additional batteries.
While public debate in Israel has focused on the system’s inability to defeat salvos of short range rockets or mortar bombs, fired from ranges of few kilometers, the Air Force is more concerned with the fewer longer range rockets that could hit air force bases with relative high precision, limiting the air forces’ operational tempo and putting combat aircraft and other assets at risk. Equally important is the protection of strategic sites located throughout the country, primarily along the coastline.
As Iron Dome is well positioned to defeat such threats, in day, night and under inclement weather conditions, the IAF would better keep such assets under control rather than deploy them to forward positions protecting forward townships, from where it would be practically impossible to remove, once enemy missiles start falling…
Rafael, on its part continues to develop the Iron Dome system, today introduced a surface/surface derivative of the system named ‘Iron Flame’. This low-cost, autonomous weapon system employs an Iron Dome interceptor stripped off its advanced proximity intercept seeker, retaining the high maneuverability, precision guidance and in-flight update capability. Packed with modular warhead and a variety of seekers to fit specific missions, ‘Iron Flame’ will carry fragmentation or penetrating warheads, providing precision attack capability to engage targets and answer calls for fire support by forces operating within its ‘circle of fire’. Rafael unveiled the new development at the ‘Fire and Combined Arms Warfare in Urban terrain’ international conference held this week by Israel’s Artillery Corps association in Zikhron Yaakov in Israel.