Published On: Thu, Jul 17th, 2014

Iron Dome $$ Stay Mostly in US, Influencing War Plans in Gaza


The Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee doubled—from $175 to $350 million—US funding of Iron Dome.

Iron Dome system intercepts Gaza rockets aimed at central Israel

With the fighting between Israel and Hamas going into its 9th day, The US Congress is preparing to give Israel—and Raytheon (RTN), one of America’s biggest defense contractors—an infusion of $175 million in new American aid, which should suffice to fund an expansion of the program, Foreign Policy reports.

From its inception, Iron Dome has been synonymous with two Israeli defense bigs: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and the Israel Aerospace Industries. But now, according to Business News, the Pentagon is requiring Israel to buy more of the parts of the much praised missile-defense system from American contractors, including the giant Raytheon (RTN).

Incidentally, an Israeli Aerospace Engineering expert, who’s been given in the past the Israel Security Award, said in a radio interview last week that Iron Dome is one of the biggest hoaxes ever pulled.

Dr. Motti Shafir told Israel Radio 103: “Iron Dome is an audiovisual show … In reality, all the explosions we see in the sky are incidents of self destruction. No Iron Dome rocket has ever had a real hit on any rocket … The rockets that are declared as being downed by Iron Dome and never reach the ground are virtual rockets, which are born and then die in the Dome control computer.”

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee approved a draft 2015 defense spending bill that doubles—from $175 to $350 million—the current US funding of Iron Dome. The full appropriations panel will consider the bill on Thursday.

Meanwhile, three other panels have approved the funding expansion, so it’s probably a done deal. According to EP, since 2011 Iron Dome has received $720 million altogether in American funding.

The new funding is included in an overall package slated for development of missile defense systems, totaling $621.6 million. Presumably, some of the money will go to systems like the Arrow 2 Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense System, which is attempting to deal with grownup threats.

The IDF this week celebrated the introduction of a ninth Iron Dome system, reportedly better and faster and more accurate than the previous eight systems.

Now comes the part where American money can influence policy a whole lot better than American pleas or threats. The fact is, Iron Dome has reached a technological excellence that’s ages ahead of all the previous anti-rocket-rockets ever. Granted, the $800 metal cylinders flying out of Gaza into Israeli civilian centers aren’t exactly Tomahawks, but, still, Iron Dome has been performing, and then some, never mind what Dr. Shafir is saying.

In fact, it has kept Israeli casualties so low—only one killed in 9 days of vicious attacks—that public opinion in Israel tends to support a longer bombing campaign from the air, avoiding for as long as possible a ground invasion of Gaza.

Without the Iron Dome, things would have been more equal in the air to air match, and Hamas rockets would be striking major Israeli population centers. The public would have demanded an invasion, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who’s been able to prevent military casualties on Israel’s side so far, would have been forced to send troops into Gaza, sustaining considerable casualties as they search and destroy the Hamas rocket launchers.

But with Israel reporting a 90 percent Iron Dome success rate, in attacking 27 percent of Hamas rockets (most of them fall in empty fields, which the system can predict based on their trajectory), there’s no hurry. And so the conflict can last longer, risking fewer Israeli lives.

If you’re in the stock market, Massachusetts-based Raytheon just signed on as a subcontractor with Rafael. Call your broker, maybe she could get you some.

 

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