Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Israel's Iron Dome Air Defense System to receive additional funding from the United States

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) from the United States is requesting $220 million for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins October 1, and $175.9 million for Fiscal Year 2015. The funds are intended to purchase Iron Dome air defense systems for Israel.

Pending approval, the funds would add to the $486 million that has already been allocated in recent years to the Iron Dome system, which is made by the Israeli Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. For the current fiscal year, $211 million has been allocated.

The allocation of precious funding to Israel comes at a time when several sections of the US Armed Forces have or will see some of their budgets cut. This has led to negative consequences, such as:
  • layoffs and hiring freezes
  • suspension of tuition assistance to service members
  • delays in medical care
  • reduced flying hours for pilots
Yet despite all of this, the United States is to pay for the purchase of additional Iron Dome systems for Israel.

The Iron Dome system is designed to provide air defense, especially against short-range rockets and artillery shells, for civilian population centers. The system is already in service and has been used in recent conflicts.

According to Israel, the Iron Dome system has performed exceptionally well in intercepts and attained accuracy figures that are unmatched anywhere by any other system.

These claims have been disputed with some suggesting that the real accuracy figures are only a fraction of what is claimed by Israel. The Israeli government has dismissed these criticisms.

However, regardless of the true effectiveness of the Iron Dome system, the real question remains whether it makes sense to invest in a system, which uses missiles that are much more expensive than the unguided rockets and shells it's supposed to intercept.

In a war of attrition, the economics are overwhelmingly against the side using the Iron Dome system. From this standpoint and the fact that unguided rockets and shells will always have the price advantage, the Iron Dome as it's currently conceived, is fundamentally flawed.

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