Iron Dome advances to meet Qassam threat
By Alon Ben-David
Israel successfully conducted a first launch of the Iron Dome counter-rocket system's interceptor on 9 March.
Designed to defend against rockets from a range of 4-70 km, the Iron Dome's interceptor, dubbed Tamir, is 3 m long, weighs 90 kg and has a 160 mm diameter, Jane's has learned.
The interceptor is equipped with a highly sophisticated proximity warhead, details of which are classified. "I can only say it is designed to ensure the destruction of all known rocket threats in the region, including future threats," Brigadier General Daniel Gold, head of research and development (R&D) in the Israeli Ministry of Defence (MoD), told Jane's.
An Iron Dome battery will consist of the EL/M-2084 multimission radar (MMR) from Israel Aerospace Industries' Elta Systems, a fire control centre and three launchers, each carrying 20 interceptors.
A single battery is required to protect an urban area of approximately 150 sq km from rockets fired at a range of 15 km, with the defended area growing if the rockets are fired from greater distances.
A major consideration of the developers is the requirement for a low-cost system, as Iron Dome is meant to counter the thousands of rocket threats surrounding Israel, including the Palestinian improvised Qassam rockets, which are produced in the Gaza Strip for an estimated cost of USD200.
Developer Rafael has, therefore, equipped the Iron Dome interceptor with a simple radio-frequency seeker covered with a plastic radome. A conical tin head protects the seeker from the heat during most of the flight and is removed seconds before the interception, allowing the seeker to acquire the target and guide the interceptor to the encounter. The current cost estimation of the interceptor is USD45,000. 281 of 896 words
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