Just How Effective Are Missile Defense Shields? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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This certainly raised an eyebrow for me. I am not just talking about the Iron Done system, but other systems in general.


A leading US expert on missile defence has raised doubts about the efficacy of Israel's Iron Dome defence system.

Israeli officials say it hit some 84% of the targets engaged in last year's conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

But Professor Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests the defence system's success rate may have been "drastically lower".

The success of the Iron Dome was one of the most significant military aspects of Israel's brief campaign.

During this upsurge in fighting - dubbed Operation Pillar of Defence by the Israeli military - Israeli aircraft, drones and artillery bombarded Palestinian targets, while Palestinian groups fired over 1,400 rockets into Israel.

The Iron Dome missile defence system - built by the Israeli company, Rafael, but largely funded by the US - was rushed into service to defend against the Palestinian missile threat.

Mr Postol has a track-record in debunking claims made for state-of-the-art missile defence systems.
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Continuing such a deception can only result in the misappropriation of limited defence assets.”

Professor Theodore Postol Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In the wake of the 1991 Gulf War after which lavish praise was directed at the Patriot defensive system used by the Americans to defend against incoming Iraqi Scuds - Mr Postol showed that the Patriot's defenders - like the Patriot itself - were wide of the mark.

Patriot's success rate, he argued, could have been less than 10%, perhaps even zero. It may actually have hit nothing.

Mr Postol's criticism of the Iron Dome rests upon the nature of the warhead carried by the interceptor missile and the observed trajectories - or flight paths - of the launches he has studied from the November 2012 conflict.

In essence he believes that the only way Iron Dome can be sure of destroying the warhead of an incoming rocket is to hit it head on.

"If the interceptor is flying a crossing or diving trajectory compared to that of the incoming rocket," he told me, "then you are not going to destroy the warhead. Even hitting the incoming warhead side-on will probably not have sufficient energy to detonate it, he argues.

Mr Postol says that while he cannot say what the performance of Iron Dome was in Operation Pillar of Defence, "all the available evidence unambiguously indicates a drastically lower level of performance than the 84% claimed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)."

His view is that the successful hit rate on incoming warheads could be as low as 5-10%.

Mr Postol says that if the IDF wants to make such claims, then it should provide the data to back them up.

He acknowledges that it might have been "a reasonable strategy for Israel to claim that Iron Dome was working, as an excuse not to invade Gaza at an enormous cost to both sides. "

But he argues that "continuing such a deception can only result in the misappropriation of limited defence assets".

Mr Postol says that "as an American supporter of Israel's right to self-defence", he does not feel comfortable seeing the US spend money on a weapon system "that hardly works".

The BBC tried to contact Rafael, Iron Dome's manufacturer for a response to Mr Postol's claims but was unable to get a reply.

Earlier an IDF spokesman quoted in the Haaretz newspaper, noted that "all interceptions by Iron Dome are investigated with cross-checking of system data, radar [data], reports from different sources on the ground and other information. The data of [Iron Dome] activity was arrived at based on this process."
This certainly raised an eyebrow for me.

Generally these missile defense systems have serious limitations, there is also some debate as to what constitutes an intercept. As noted in the article Postol has a record of showing that despite hitting the target, interceptors are often unable to destroy the warhead. Problem as shown with the US military barracks in Dhahran is that the interceptor really needs to destroy the warhead when the missile is over friendly territory.

The problem of hitting the warhead has confounded GMD as well, FTI-01 (a test originally believed to be a success) still has a question mark over it with regard to the final result. If that's the case you do wonder how many 'successful' intercepts the MDA ever actually achieved, we just don't have the information to know.

A positive development for BMD however is that the US has cancelled phase four of the European missile defense element, this will go someway to diffusing the Russian-US spat over missile defense.
http://mostlymissiledefense.com/2013/03 ... h-15-2013/

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