U.S. helps shield Israel with aid for Iron Dome
Israel has intercepted hundreds of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip this month thanks to a U.S.-funded defense system that intercepts short-range missiles and knocks them out of the sky.
Called Iron Dome, the Israeli defense system uses cameras and radar to detect a rocket or mortar launch and track the shell’s flight path from a distance as far as 45 miles away.
It then transmits data about the shell’s trajectory to a firecontrol system that determines whether the rocket poses a threat to a populated area in Israel. It ignores missiles that are projected to hit unpopulated areas.
But if an incoming rocket does pose a threat, Iron Dome launches an interceptor missile that uses its built-in radar to help it close in on the target and destroy it over a safe area.
According to the Israeli Defense Force, more than 1,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza since attacks began Nov. 14, and Iron Dome has been used to intercept at least 359 of them.
The system is not perfect: Iron Dome has intercepted and destroyed about 85 percent of rockets that have posed threats.
“It’s extraordinary. … You can watch these missiles being taken out of the sky, and for that we really owe a great debt of appreciation to America, to the president, to the Congress who have given a tremendous amount of support to this Iron Dome battery system,” Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren told Fox News.
Iron Dome was built using indigenous technology by Israeli defense company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., and it has benefited from financial support by the U.S.
The U.S. provided about $205 million to Israel in 2010 for the system and about $70 million this year, according to The Associated Press. Each interceptor missile costs about $40,000.
“Iron Dome has been an incredible success for U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation,” said Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
“This life-saving system has successfully intercepted approximately 90 percent of the enemy rockets it has engaged,” the California Republican said. “I am pleased to have been one of the earliest supporters and to have provided more than $200 million for additional Iron Dome batteries and Tamir interceptors in the [fiscal 2013] National Defense Authorization Act.”
The House’s version of the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act would provide
“Reforms related to theoretical study, the pilot selection process, training subjects and methodology have taken place,” Xinhua reported.
“We have made a lot of effort to develop and use flight simulators to shorten training and save costs,” Gen. Xie Hong, deputy head of the air force training command was quoted as saying. about $168 million for general U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation, about $100 million more than what the Obama administration has requested.
The defense bill also proposes to authorize $210 million for the Iron Dome program for
Curiously, Mr. Ma’s message to his mainland counterparts was not sent in his role as president of the Republic of China, but as chairman of the ruling Nationalist Party.
In the note, Mr. Ma stressed the lofty mission of joint efforts by the Chinese Communist Party and the Nationalist Party for “the grand revival of the Chinese nation.”
Unlike Mr. Hu’s predecessor, Jiang Zemin, who threatened Taiwan with missiles and hardcore diplomatic pressure, Mr. Hu was able to work together with the George W. Bush administration to rein in Taiwan’s independence-leaning forces.
Yet, unlike all the previous Chinese Communist leaders, including Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, the incoming Mr. Xi has the most intimate and first-hand knowledge and understanding of Taiwan.
For more than a decade, Mr. Xi built up his political resume as a reform-minded communist official in Fujian province, a stone’s throw from Taiwan across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait.
In addition to its geographic proximity to Taiwan, Fujian shares close ancestral, linguistic, cultural, economic and political ties with the Taiwanese. fiscal 2013 alone, and a total of $680 million to fund the Iron Dome system until 2015.
“It’s signif icantly more money than we have invested into the system,” said Michaela Bendikova, a research associate at the Heritage Foundation.
Ms. Bendikova said Iron Dome has garnered widespread popularity in Israel, noting a Facebook page that updates every missile that the defense system intercepts.
“Although not advisable from a security perspective, some Israelis go out and take videos of intercepts,” she said.
Israel’s military has deployed five Iron Dome firing units, or batteries, most of them in the southern part of the country near Gaza.
The fifth battery was deployed Saturday outside Tel Aviv, t wo months ahead of schedule. Hours later, it shot down a rocket headed toward Tel Aviv, AP reported.
Iron Dome got its first field test in March, when the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad launched scores of rockets from Gaza. The defense system reportedly intercepted about 85 percent of the rockets deemed to be threats. Today, there are more Taiwanese businessmen and Taiwanese investment in Fujian than in any other region of China.
Mr. Xi is said to have a good reputation among many Taiwanese for being less strident and more willing to listen to the Taiwanese side of the six-decades-old political and military standoff.
“At this moment of your Party’s change of leadership,” Mr. Ma wrote to Mr. Xi in his note, “I eagerly await the continuation of our two parties’ more outstanding achievements in further promoting our deepening exchange and establishment of official liaison facilities on each other’s side.”
Closer ties will be easier said than done. At present, the Chinese government has hundreds of missiles — by some estimates as many as 1,500 — deployed along the Fujian coast and aimed at Taiwan.
Chinese military intelligence also has been running vigorous espionage operations against the island democracy. China has not relented on vows to invade and take Taiwan, and Beijing’s international isolation campaign against Taipei is continuing without any sign of easing.
Miles Yu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Iron Dome protects the port town of Ashdod. The Israeli Defense Force said the system has intercepted at least 359 of the more than 1,000 rockets since attacks began Nov. 14.