Israel’s reserve Brigadier General Dani Gold, the father of the Iron Dome missile defense system, spoke about its development and successes at the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Gold’s presentation was by far the most exciting and the most popular of the day.
Everyone around the world heard about the Iron Dome and its daily successes in shooting down rockets launched by the Hamas at civilian targets in Israel during the Gaza conflict last summer. But what they may not have known was that Iron dome was almost never made.
According to Gold, “people around the world said that it could not be done. I thought differently.”
He was the one who brought the project to the Israeli government operated Rafael defense technologies company. Gold said that he invested $7 million from his own VC fund and that he got another $200 million in funding from the Israeli government.
But he also got outside funding saying, “in part I didn’t think that the government would be quick enough so we found private investors in the U.S.”
The Iron Dome was not only affordable to design and implement but it has saved billions in what would have otherwise been damage to civilian property and businesses at the hands of Hamas missiles. “It’s the cheapest missile system in the world and saved the economy billions.” Gold lamented the fact that the Iron Dome was not yet in existence at the time of the 2006 war with Lebanon.
Gold showed several videos of Iron Dome missiles successfully shooting Hamas rockets out of the sky during last summer’s conflict. He also gave an example of what happened when four rockets were launched at an oil refinery in Ashkelon. The system was able to determine that one of the rockets would fall harmlessly into the Mediterranean Sea and so it launched only three missiles.
In another video Gold showed one Iron Dome missile that moved on its own to avoid contact with a rocket that was headed for the open sea and instead went after another rocket that would have landed in Israel.
Gold said that businesses can learn a great deal from his experiences, specifically with how to handle high risk ventures. 15 new technologies were developed for the Iron Dome from scratch with no failures.
The company eVigilio, which works in public safety, uses Iron Dome technology to predict the time and location of tsunamis.
Gold also spoke of the difference between electronic and cyber warfare saying, “electronic warfare is like cyber warfare only much more complicated.”
Case and point: the upgrades that Israel made for the F16 fighter jet. Special sensors were added that let the pilot “semi-automatically” launch defensive missile that can take out anti-aircraft batteries before they can lock on their planes. They can also send out signals that disrupt the anti-aircraft missiles so that they cannot get a lock on their planes.
There are also new technologies that commercial planes can use to defend against shoulder launched missiles that terrorists are now threatening to use.
As if that isn’t enough, robots that can even climb stairs are being developed to conduct reconnaissance inside buildings before soldiers go in. This is highly useful in situations like the IDF infantry found itself facing in Gaza last summer. Other robots will now be able to patrol the borders so as to spare Israeli soldiers from the danger of being killed or captured as happened on the border with Lebanon in both 2000 and 2006.
Gold also discussed the new laser tech that let the IDF map out the Hamas tunnels even in the dark. This allowed the soldiers to know exactly what to expect before they went into them during the IDF operations last summer to destroy the Hamas terrorist tunnels into Israel.