By Paul Marks, New Scientist ~ As violence erupts once more in Israel and the Gaza Strip, new military technology is set to change how future conflicts will play out.
For the first time, a missile-defence system is working effectively. Nicknamed “Iron Dome”, Israel’s missile interceptor uses radar to identify rocket launches, track their trajectory and guide a Mach 2.2 missile to blow them up mid-air.
By noon on 19 November, 877 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, according to figures from the Israeli Defence Force, which claims to have downed 307 rockets on a dangerous trajectory.
Until 17 November the system had a range of only 15 kilometres but a software upgrade fast-tracked over the weekend extended the range to
75 km, says Ben Goodlad, a defence analyst with IHS Jane’s, the military data publisher based in Coulsdon, UK.
That immediately allowed the system to destroy at least one Iranian-designed Fajr-5 missile headed for Tel Aviv. Although the Fajr-5 can reach Tel Aviv, about 70km away, most rockets coming out of the Gaza Strip are Qassam rockets, with ranges between 3 and 15 km. “They are very easy to produce, made of common day to day materials, but are quite unsophisticated, not guided in any way,” says Goodlad.