The maker of Israel’s “Iron Dome” has unveiled a maritime version of the rocket-blocking defence system which it says could be especially useful in protecting national economic resources at sea like oil and gas platforms.
State-owned defence contractor Rafael wants to leverage the system’s much-vaunted success in protecting Israeli civilians in this summer’s Gaza war, hoping to draw navies as buyers for the new maritime version
Rafael unveiled the “C-Dome” at this week’s Euronaval conference near Paris.
The system which endeavours to help combat vessels counteract any threats from the air, including missiles, helicopters and tiny unmanned drone aircraft, which could increasingly become tools of combat and reconnaissance at sea just as they have on land in recent years.
Large naval vessels generally already have radar-based interception systems to counter incoming threats, but Rafael executives say C-Dome offers innovations.
It can fire up to a missile per second, covering a 360-degree range while piggybacking on a vessel’s own radar systems with heat-tracking missiles that zero in on multiple incoming threats at a time.
“C-dome offers something that is not out there [in the market] yet … A small footprint and the capability to engage multiple targets and saturation threats,’ said programme director Ari Sacher.
“And it’s based on the only system in the world that has more than 1,000 intercepts.
“We can protect the ship from every direction at the same time. Most systems out there can’t do that.”
The Iron Dome all but eliminated civilian casualties from Palestinian rocket fire during Israel’s summer offensive against Gaza.
The Israeli military says that Iron Dome shot down 735 rockets, for more than an 85 percent success rate of those targeted.
The land-based system quickly recognises the trajectory of incoming rockets and whether they are headed for population centres.
Those are shot down, while others are allowed to fall in empty fields to spare the hefty cost of firing the sophisticated interceptors.
Rafael officials say the Iron Dome intercepted more than 1,200 projectiles during the war.