The Israeli Air Force will soon start to retrain reserve forces to man new Iron Dome batteries. According to updated plans, six of the ten planned batteries will utilize the IDF’s reserve forces, and four batteries will employ regular forces.
Developed by Rafael, the Iron Dome went operational in 2011, and has since successfully intercepted dozens of rockets launched from Gaza towards southern Israeli towns.
The system works by launching interceptor missiles at every incoming rocket. Its current interception rate, standing at approximately 90%, surpassed all expectations.
Comprised of a search and guidance radar (produced by Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries), a control center, and interception missiles, the missiles are launched only if the system’s computations show that enemy rockets are expected to land in areas pre-designated as protected ones.
The IAF’s air defense layout was initially equipped with two batteries funded by Israel, and was later upgraded to an additional two batteries that were funded by the US (so far, the US has funded construction for four Iron Dome batteries). The US Congress recently began the process to approve an additional grant of $600 million to fund four supplementary batteries and a substantial quantity of interception missiles.
Under the assumption that the special budget will be approved, the IDF is preparing to operate a total of ten Iron Dome batteries.
Due to a shortage in regular manpower, four batteries (one of them a training battery that will be transferred to defense areas in emergencies) will be based on regular manpower, and six more on reserve soldiers. The IAF will soon conduct retraining exercises for soldiers that will be transferred to the Iron Dome unit from other reserve units.
It should be noted that according to IDF scenarios, they require thirteen to fourteen Iron Dome batteries to protect IAF bases, strategic infrastructure sites, and central cities in southern and northern Israel. However, at this time, due to shortages in funding and manpower, there is no plan to acquire this number of batteries.