Iron Dome hits cruise missile in first test of Israel’s triple-tier missile shield

Concerns over the Iranian threat drove Israel this month to conduct its first ever combined tests of its multitier missile defense system’s ability to intercommunicate for the simultaneous interception of a mix of incoming threats, including rockets, UAVS, ballistic and cruise missiles. The tests, rated a resounding success, provided valuable data for the ongoing development of the medium-range David’s Sling air defense system, by pitting it against ballistic missiles, as well as showcasing the new capabilities of the Iron Dome. This system, a joint Israel-US project was initially developed to shoot down primitive short-range rockets and mortar fire, mainly from the Gaza Strip. These tests showed Iron Dome to have matured into a weapon capable of intercepting cruise missiles. Batteries were recently acquired by the US for securing overseas bases.

The mid-altitude David’s Sling and short-range Iron Dome both proved they could work in smooth tandem together and with the top tier of the system, the Arrow, which is designed to hit large ballistic missiles at high, exo-atmospheric altitudes, and whose long-range radar arrays were also tested.

The series of trials. were conducted by the Rafael defense contractor, which manufactures the Iron Dome and David’s Sling, along with the Israeli Air Force, under the direction of Israel’s Missile Defense Organization Directorate (IMDO) with the participation of the US Missile Defense Agency, Israel’s partner in the development of these air defense systems.

At another moment of high-tension with Tehran, the longstanding military collaboration between Israel and the US in missile defense was ramped up to take advantage of President Donald Trump’s last weeks in the White House.

IMDO director Moshe Patel said in a briefing to reporters on Tuesday, Dec. 15, that an air defense exercise on this scale was a first in that the intercommunication and interception capabilities of a country’s complete missile shield had never been tested together at the same time. In answer to a question about sales of these systems to Gulf nations who had recently established diplomatic relations with Israel, Patel said this had been discussed but depended on a government decision to go forward.

The Defense Ministry declined to elaborate on the number of targets that were shot down in the drill. Pini Yungman, head of Rafael missile development, said both systems had performed well, shooting down all incoming threats.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz commented: “I praise the successful test, which for the first time integrated multi-tiered interceptions by our defense systems. This is one of the most advanced networks in the world, which gives the State of Israel defense against threats from near and far,” he said.

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