Recent signing of the 2011 US budget is bringing relief to Israeli defense planners, executing US Congress Act HR 5327 that apportions $205 million for Israel to continue funding its Iron Dome Missile Interceptor System. In the words of US legislators, HR 5327 aims to assist the government of Israel for “procurement, maintenance, and sustainment of the Iron Dome Short Range Artillery Rocket Defense System with purpose of intercepting short range rockets, missiles, and mortars launched against Israel”. This budget appropriation package from the United States will allow procurement of an additional four Iron Dome batteries that will augment the two batteries deployed since March and early April to defend Beersheba and Ashkelon from Hamas launched rockets and mortars. A third battery is now likely to be available before the end of the year.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Corp claims the iron Dome system offers a low cost way to stop incoming 155 mm artillery shells with ranges of up to 70 km in all weather conditions using a special detonation warhead. The Iron Dome system uses a radar detection and ballistic computation facility to pinpoint the interception trajectory coordinates only a few seconds after a threat has become airborne. The interceptor uses a combination of in-flight target coordinates updated via data link communication along with a proximity radar to determine optimal warhead detonation timing. The system also factors in the presence of populated area in the vicinity to select a point of impact where damages to civilian can be minimal (ideally by engaging the threat at the earliest possible phase of flight). An entire system consists of the towed Missile Firing Unit (MFU), a truck-mounted Battle Management and Control (BMC) station and a the Detection and Tracking Radar (DTR) also truck-mounted. Janes identifies the Tamir interceptor as a 9.1 ft (3 m) long 200 lbs (90 kg) heavy missile with a 6.3 in. (16 cm) diameter using the powerful Elta Systems EL/M-2084 Multi Mission Radar (MMR), a phased array air defense radar capable of detecting and tracking up to 200 artillery shells and rockets per minutes at distances of up to 100 km. This set up forms a battery with 3 launchers of 20 missiles each capable of protecting up to 93 square miles (150 square kilometers) of ground. The peopledaily.com puts the battery unit price at $ 70 million dollar $45,000 per interceptor according to Janes).
The system now credited with having shot down 8 Grad Katyusha rockets in early April 2011 will bring relief to populated areas vulnerable to the 122mm Grad rocket, the smaller 107 mm and a variety of mortars.