Lying Down on the Ground. It’s Almost as Effective as Iron Dome. And a Lot Cheaper. (July 24, 2014)

According to the Israeli Government, Iron Dome has been 85% effective (or perhaps a bit more) in destroying threatening rockets fired at its territory. However, each Iron Dome interceptor costs roughly $50,000-100,000, which adds up fast when there are a lot of rockets coming in. Moreover, a recent article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists by Theodore Postol challenges this claim, arguing that the evidence indicates that Iron Dome’s success rate in destroying the rockets is actually quite low.

On Sunday (July 20), another perspective on the threat posed by these rockets came out in the course of a hearing before the Israeli Supreme Court. The Court was ruling on a petition from several Bedouin and human rights organizations requesting that the Israeli government provide mobile bomb shelters to Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert. The court rejected the request, saying that the number of mobile bomb shelters was limited and that the government had prioritize where these were deployed.

A key argument made by the Israeli state attorney at the hearing was: “Bomb shelters are a last resort from a security perspective. Lying on the ground reduces danger by 80%.”

Imagine how effective an actual shelter would be.

(Actually, it is not clear how much either bomb shelters or lying down on the ground would actually help the Bedouins, since the warning sirens telling people to seek shelter apparently cannot be heard in many of the Bedouin villages.)

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1 Comment

  1. j_kies

     /  July 31, 2014

    On the other hand; given the 225Mn$ ’emergency’ request to the US Congress to replenish expended missile stocks (for ~300 engagements of the 2200 missiles fired or so as claimed) might indicate that either the 100k/missile cost is reported grossly low or the number of missiles fired for the claimed engagement performance is a pretty big number.

    Ted’s effectiveness metric (detonating the incoming missile warhead) isn’t appropriate, any engagement that precludes missile detonation on ground strike is mission effective. (After the Patriot nonsense in 1991, I am not willing to accept diversion claims as to military effect.) Ted’s BAS article inflamed emotions and caused ‘rock-throwing’ to no good cause. The hot question at the end of this episode should be to compare the statistics of duds for non-engaged missiles v the statistics of missiles not detonating on the ground after engagement. Less ‘news-cycle sensationalistic’ but useful material to inform Congress as to the advisability of investing in Israeli industry to address threats.


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