TEL AVIV – The Defense Ministry on Sunday said it had successfully completed a series of interception tests of the upgraded Iron Dome, ten years after the missile defense system made its first interception.
The tests, carried out by defense contractor Rafael together with the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), demonstrated the capabilities of an advanced version of the Iron Dome system in a host of scenarios simulating future threats.
“This successful series of trials constitutes an important milestone in the State of Israel’s operational defensive capabilities against existing and future threats,” a statement from the ministry said.
According to IMDO chief Moshe Patael, the Iron Dome has conducted tens of trial interceptions over the past decade and more than 2,000 “operational interceptions” from live rocket fire.
“The system tested most recently is an upgraded and improved version of the Iron Dome. When we deliver it to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the Air Force (IAF) will be equipped to confront evolving threats in the region,” Patael said.
Since the Iron Dome’s first interception in 2011, the air defense battery has had an 85% success rate.
However, according Pini Yungman, Rafael’s vice president and the head of its air and missile defense division, the latest tests saw a “success rate of 100%.”
“The system intercepted all threats, which were simulated in an area secured for the purposes of the experiment. Following the test series, we can confidently say that the State of Israel is highly defended,” Yungman said.
Last week, the Defense Ministry announced it had made a “technological breakthrough” on a laser beam defense system capable of intercepting rockets, drones and anti-tank missiles.
While the cost of building the laser system is high – to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars – the firing of a laser would cost only a single dollar, so was far cheaper in the long run than the Iron Dome missile defense system which costs tens of thousands of dollars for every interception.
However, the ministry stressed that the laser system was meant to complement, and not replace, the Iron Dome system.