Air Defense: Divine Dispensation


June 3,2008: Israel is making a major effort to get the "Iron Dome" anti-rocket system, to protect towns and other facilities in southern and northern Israel, into service. Last year, it was believed it would take until 2012 to deploy the system. But now, deployment is expected in 2010, if not sooner. To that end, the developer, major defense firm Rafael, got religious authorities to allow work to continue on Saturdays, which is the Jewish day of worship and, in Israel, a time when many firms shut down (especially those doing work for the government). Exceptions are made, by religious authorities, for national emergencies or matters of life and death.

Iron Dome operates by using two radars to quickly calculate the trajectory of the incoming rocket (Palestinian Kassams from Gaza, or Russian and Iranian designs favored by Hizbollah in Lebanon) and do nothing if the rocket trajectory indicates it is going to land in an uninhabited area. But if the computers predict a rocket coming down in an inhabited area, a $40,000 guided missile is fired to intercept the rocket. This makes the system cost-effective. That's because Hizbollah fired 4,000 rockets in 2006, and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired over four thousand Kassam rockets in the past seven years. But over 90 percent of these rockets landed in uninhabited areas. Still, 500 interceptor missiles costs $20 million. But that would save over a hundred lives, and hundreds of injuries. A cheap price to pay, especially if you are one of the victims, or potential victims. Israel already has a radar system in place that gives some warning of approaching rockets. Iron Dome will use that system, in addition to another, more specialized radar.

Rafaels is being offered large bonuses if they can get Iron Dome into action sooner. Some aspects of the work are now proceeding 24/7, so are the rockets coming out of Gaza.


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