Is Iron Dome the most successful Air defense system?

Iron Dome

The iron dome is one of the most popular missile defense systems. The recent conflict between Israel and Gaza has made it more famous. With Highest success rate and a decade of experience in combat make iron dome the most successful missile defense system. How much is it true? Is this the best missile defense system in the world? Let’s find out. 

Artillery is a nightmare for the front soldiers. It can fire from kilometers away. non-visible from a distance and unpredictability of rockets impact makes artillery more lethal 

Artillery was one of the most feared weapons in world war II. Half the casualty happened due to artillery. Rockets artillery was cheaper and didn’t require a large machine to fire it.

A few years back, there were only one or two ways to defend against artillery. One of them is to destroy it somehow first, and the other is to fire your artillery against them. 

The first significant break in technology to defend against artillery was the counter-battery radars, which could detect the rocket/ shell flight pattern, direction, speed, and pinpoint the impact. Not only this, but it could also calculate the rocket’s origin of the fire. That data helped the force to fire back and destroy. 

But in practice, it was way more complicated than it sounds. It was hard to detect the small rockets with their short flight time. Then, Post Cold War technologies became more accurate and powerful enough to do all this in battle.

All this motivated to Develop the CRAM. 

What is CRAM / Counter RAM

It’s the Acronym for the counter rocket and artillery mortar. It’s a set of systems designed to detect and destroy the rockets before they hit the ground. Again it was a challenging task. You need to detect, track, calculate their projectile, then alert the counter system to fire & destroy the incomings all in just a matter of seconds.  

The reason most countries haven’t developed the CRAM system. Because they don’t need it, the CRAM system requires to be put in different scenarios. The short-range missiles are for the enemies nearby.

Israel fits such a scenario. Israel and Palestine’s conflict always result in Palestine firing hundreds of rockets at Israel. Apart from Palestine, Israel has experienced rocket, missile fire from almost all sides. Continuously facing such situations, Israel started its Research and development in the CRAM system. 

Before investing in their R&D, they Considered buying the USA’s Centurian. But Then they decided to build their own with the help of the USA, and The Iron Dome was Built.


Iron Dome in Action during recent Israel-Gaza conflict. Image Source: cbsnews1

Iron Dome has an advanced radar that detects and tracks the incoming rockets, Then the control unit calculates the rockets projectile and pinpoints the impact. Then the missile launcher fires to counter. The launcher carries 20 Tamir Interceptor missiles. 

But Iron Dome’s, missile’s advanced tech, Its guidance system make it highly costly .one interceptor missile costs between 20000 to 100000 USD. Having been attacked by countless rockets, The iron dome can run out of missiles.

To avoid wasting missiles on the useless target, Advance Radar the Elm 2084 and a control unit can track and calculate whether the rocket will impact a populated area. Or in some harmless open area. That calculation helps to find the rocket, which can cause harm. 

Tamir Interceptor missile is not a hit-to-kill missile like the patriot pack three. Its Proximity fuse detonates when it senses the incoming rocket is close enough to blast out projectiles, hoping one of them will hit the target in a shotgun style. But there seems to be a problem with this. It might hit the target, but no guarantee it will destroy it. It could knock down the missile in a different direction if not destroy it.

One more good thing about the iron dome is that it’s a real-world combat experience. Being tested is one thing but being in a battle is another. In Testing and exercise, weapons tend to be working perfectly cause they know the simulated attack and how to counter them. 

That’s what happened with the American Patriot missile system. It showed terrific capabilities in Testing, but it failed in defending against Iraqi SCUD missiles in combat. 

Minor problems can cause significant damage to this kind of system, which is not the case with the iron dome. For almost a decade countering thousands of rockets, any issues, small or big, were identified and fixed. 

This could be the reason why Russia has developed some of the best defense systems in the world. Because of its experiences using early systems like S-75 and S-125 in the Vietnam war and the middle east conflict. And that experience can be seen in the mighty S-400.


So Iron Dome is Certainly an incredible system. We have all see the action in videos. But the cost of Tamir missiles makes it limited. A new system, IRON BEAM, will take over in the coming future, which will be more effective and much cheaper. This will work on laser technology. Israel is working on the Iron beam. Soon we will see how effective the iron beam is.