One year ago today, Iron Dome intercepts first ever rocket

Iron Dome battery in action

An inside look of the creation of the anti-missile defense system that changed the face of the Israeli home front, defending millions of civilians against Gaza rocket fire

Date: 05/04/2012, 6:06 PM     Author: Yael Livnat

On April 4, 2011 the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system successfully intercepted a rocket for the first time ever. At the time, the system was still new and unfamiliar in the Air Defense Command and nobody guessed it would become the most desired combat position in the IDF (Zahal).

Led by head of research and development, Brig. Gen. Danny Gold, construction of the Iron Dome system began in 2005. Already in 2009, first interception tests proved successful and on April 7, 2011 the system was put into operational use and for the first time successfully intercepted a rocket fired at civilian communities in southern Israel.

Creating the ‘Iron Dome’

So how does the defense system work? The Iron Dome operates day and night and at all climate conditions to intercept short range rockets, capable of counteracting multiple simultaneous threats. Radars detect a rocket launched at and transfers data of its route ro the command and control system that calculates where it will hit. If the location threatens lives or property and justifies interception, a counteracting missile is launched against the rocket. The head of the intercepting missile explodes near the rocket at a location without inducing any harm.

Where did the name ‘Iron Dome’ come from? Col. S who was elected to run the project had very little spare time as continuous rocket fire was threatening the Israeli home front. “The first name we thought of was actually ‘Anti-Qassam’ but once the project was put in motion I realized that name was problematic. We came to consider the name Golden Dome but we thought it might be too ostentations and changed it to the ‘Iron Dome’.

Operational success

Today there are three Iron Dome anti-missile batteries stationed in southern Israel, a fourth battery to become operational in the near future.

With every rocket fired at civilian communities in southern Israel, the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system made headlines creating a buzz in the media. During the recent escalation in March, the system successfully intercepted 56 rockets of 73 that were directly threatening civilian communities.

Commander of the Air Defense Command, Brig. Gen. Doron Gavish, told IDF (Zahal) Website that “We are marking a year for the new organization of the command and the construction of the Iron Dome system.” Brig. Gen. Gavish stressed that “We conclude a year with 93 successful interceptions. This is a significant amount, showing the system improved throughout the year as today we are able to defend more areas. Behind the high level of defense, are the soldiers operating the system.”