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15 July 2014


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Medicine Man

In addition to it being a real hard trick to pull off, I'm also told that they're hitting rockets that cost a couple of hundred dollars each with their own 20K missiles. I guess that makes military contractors happy, if no one else.


One may rephrase that to "Iron Dome May Not Be As Effective as Israeli censors and the IDF want you to believe".

The Israeli government has every motive to exaggerate the effectiveness of Iron Dome, and to censor any reports that testify to any lack of effectiveness.

* Iron Dome was irresistible for the Izzies because it promised to be a technological fix for a political problem - Palestinian retaliation for Israeli actions, because not expanding settlements and not occasionally whacking Gaza was not an option. Freedom of action, at last.

* IMO Iron Dome was attractive for the Izzies for domestical political reasons have because they needed to offer their citizenry some ACTIVE protection against the missiles ('do something') and not have them just sit out the rockets in their bomb shelters.

* It was pitched to the Americans for funding as a means to protect Israeli citizens from terrorist attack, and received generous US funding, and allowed lobby politicos to feel good about themselves for having protected poor little Israel.

* As with all missile defence systems, Iron Dome is an inherently destabilising system for the same reason NATO's missile shield is a destabilising system - it reduces self restraint imposed by enemy retaliatory capability. If you can blunt the enemy counterstrike, why not strike first and early? Such considerations were very common during the cold war, and there is a reason why the ABM treaty came to pass, the wisdom of which, of course, was swept aside as 'old think' by the loons in the Bush administration. That Obama didn't change course on that isssue speaks for itself.

* If it doesn't work, or doesn't work as good as they say, the Israelis can't say so openly, because it would frighten the public and tell the enemy that we cannot counter their missiles. As long as casualties stay low, failure can be blamed on Palestinian viciousness rather than Iron Dome shortcomings.

* The combination of the last two points is particularly toxic.

All of those then collude to create a program that continues because it needs to continue, at considerable cost, while reducing even further Israeli restraint.

Since the Israelis politically cannot say that Iron Dome doesn't work as advertised, any official utterance as to Iron Dome's effectivenss must be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

In the end, Iron Dome to an extent parallels Iraq's infamous dowsing rod bomb detectors. Even when it was long obvious they don't work, and the producer had been sent to jail for draud in the UK, the Iraqis kept them in service because they didn't have anything else.

Though, to give credit to Israeli engineers, Iron Dome quite probably is a much superior sytem, functionally speaking.

Mark Gaughan

To all of you: http://souloftheeast.org/2014/07/11/on-power-and-death/


It may be hard...but my guess is it will get progressively easier (note: not easy) as a data base of attempts, failures, and successes, is built up and analyzed with increasing sophistication. Moore's law will work here, perhaps, as well.


jonst: Won't the rockets also get better? Mooore's Law dealt with solving a fixed problem: improving computing time. The movement of electrons are generally predictable in computers, aren't they? In rocket technology, less so.


I would argue that rockets are a much much more mature science. The data on rocket accuracy/kill radius/ and such is extensive. Decades and decades of data. Of course it will improve. But I am dubious it will improve at the rate that interception will improve as the data base builds. This aspect of warfare is relatively new with limited practical experience. That's a layman's take mind you. Now none these calculations change the assumption that many many will get to the target. OR, roughly near it. Still, the defense will mature faster than the offensive. For now.


Rockets are metal tubes filled with solid fuel. Change that to a square plastic tube and targeting them will be much harder. Use larger follies, decoys and heat shields and a lot will go through. Don't forget that the hit rate of those rockets isn't high anyway.


Using publicly available video, I recall reading about the work of a MIT scientist did a study of the performance of the patriots at intercepting SCUDS and determined a 98% failure rate to hit the bullet on the head. The reason was that the SCUDS separated the warhead from the much larger engine and missile body early after the boost phase (for aerodynamics), and the patriot missile always tended to go after the much larger (and easier to target) empty missile body. Damage was officially assigned to falling debris (which included the warhead).

Strangely, despite this information being publicly available, orders for patriots by various nations were never seriously impinged, I guess following the maxim to be seen to do something even if it wastes money and provides false security is better than doing nothing.

I have no idea if the Hamas rockets separate the warhead, but it would be a rather easy improvement (small charge on a timer after the fuel is spent).


All: the rocket technology is obsolete, the new future belongs to drones


sorry about the typo - it should be "near future"

Charles I

This report features a graphic claiming that of 1350+/_rockets fired from Gaza, only 265 were shot down while at least 1,027 got through.



Charles, but is that 1,027 failures, or 1,207 that were heading into fields and other uninhabited areas? If you had an expensive rocket, would you waste it if the incoming was going to land in a field? Shrapnel from successful intercepts also falls to earth.

Do you have any info on undisputed "misses"? (Personally, I'd love to believe Iron Dome is a farce. But evidence would be nice.)


Terminators For The Win.

Couldn't find their mobile trash can with a machine gun on top that can be set to fully-automatic, kill-anything-in-front-of-you-that-moves mode, but it's been out for a couple years now. Here's some others, ranging from teleoperated to supervised to fully autonomous:

Israel's recent Terminator car, the Guardium--basically an armored Bug that drives itself, packs heat.

CMU version, the Crusher:

iRobot Warrior X700

VIPER with a gun:

another Israeli Terminator car w/ heavy gun:

and, because there's nothing so much fun as destroying houses, a robot bulldozer:

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