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America Must Learn Missile Defense Lessons from Israel-Hamas War

Posted on Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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by AMAC Newsline
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AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis

US missile defense agency

On Friday, just 15 minutes into an agreed-upon four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported that unidentified militants inside the Gaza strip had launched a rocket toward southern Israel, threatening to shatter the fragile peace. Although Israel’s Iron Dome quickly intercepted and destroyed the projectile, the incident was another reminder of the central role missiles and missile defenses have played in the conflict – something U.S. leaders would be wise to pay attention to.

When Hamas launched its assault on Israel on October 7, the terrorist group began with a missile barrage that saw 3,000 pieces of ordinance fired across the border. One month later, on November 9, the IDF reported that Hamas had launched some 9,500 rockets and mortars.

Thankfully, many of these projectiles were crude weapons manufactured by Hamas militants that failed to detonate or exploded harmlessly in open areas.

But some of the missiles have inevitably made it through and landed in Israeli population centers. In total, the Israeli prime minister’s office has reported more than 1,200 deaths and 6,900 injuries throughout the course of the conflict.

The main reason those numbers aren’t dramatically higher is thanks to Israel’s state of the art missile defense system, a network of hundreds of radars and missile interceptor units spread throughout the country. One month into the fighting, the system had destroyed an estimated 2,000 rockets and mortars, likely saving thousands of Israeli lives.

Israel’s missile defense network is comprised of a three-tiered system that together creates what many experts consider to be the most advanced and robust missile shield in the world.

The first layer of the network, which most frequently appears in news headlines, is the Iron Dome, designed to intercept and destroy short-range threats like those coming from Gaza. This layer is comprised of a web of detection and tracking radars and Tamir interceptor missiles. Each Iron Dome battery has between three and four missile launchers with 20 missiles per launcher.

The next layer of the network is known as “David’s Sling” and is designed to intercept medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles. Throughout the Israel-Hamas conflict, David’s Sling has been used to down Hamas-made Ayyash-250 rockets, but it is also theoretically capable of intercepting Russian Iskander and Chinese DF-15 missiles that could be deployed by Iran or another hostile actor in the region.

The third and final layer of Israel’s missile defense network is known as “Arrow,” backed primarily by U.S.-built Patriot missiles. This network of interceptors is designed to counter long-range ballistic missile threats.

More recently, Israel and the United States began a joint project known as “Arrow 3” to develop the capability to intercept long-range ballistic missiles above the earth’s atmosphere. On November 10, the IDF announced that an Arrow 3 missile had “effectively intercepted a target launched towards Israel in the Red Sea region” for the first time.

Israel and the United States are also working on a next-generation missile defense system known as “Iron Beam” that could well become the future of all missile defense technology.

Instead of using traditional interceptor missiles, Iron Beam uses lasers and directed-energy technology to destroy incoming missiles. Although the system is still in its infancy, it reportedly downed a rocket fired from Gaza last week – the first time that such a weapon has been used successfully in combat.

Importantly, while each Tamir Iron Dome interceptor costs around $50,000, each “shot” from Iron Beam only costs $3.50. This dramatically lower cost could allow Israel to install exponentially more Iron Beam batteries throughout their country and effectively eliminate the threat from short-range missiles.

But according to specialists in the field that I spoke with, the pace at which Iron Beam and similar projects are being developed is currently hampered by a lack of funding – in part because of politics. President Joe Biden has notably tied further research funding for laser missile defenses to more military funding for Ukraine, slowing down its passage through Congress.

Amid alarming developments like the Chinese government establishing bases in Cuba and the rapid advancement of Russia’s hypersonic missile program, missile defense has become even more important for the United States as well. While defending Israel has important strategic ramifications for the United States, American military leaders can also learn a great deal from the Israel-Hamas conflict about what strategies to employ to protect the homeland.

One retired vice admiral responsible for budgeting missile defense systems in the past told me, “Now is not the time to be forced to prioritize and save like ten years ago… the American people must know that the threat is serious, but we can defeat it.” He added that the immediate solution is a radical change of thinking about missile defense in the White House. “We need a real leader with a vision like Ronald Reagan. We need him now.”

At least two other former high-ranking U.S. defense officials with whom I discussed this subject also highlighted the urgency for beefing up missile defense in the United States. However, they said, until now, Joe Biden has offered no strategic vision.

Former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense John Rood, speaking at a Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance event in October, warned that if Israel “had not invested in the size and scale of the defense that they had,” they would’ve lost many more lives. “I would like to see us, in the United States, do some more,” Rood added.

As Israel’s experience shows, an abundance of preparation – even against threats that at the current moment seem remote – saves lives. President Biden and other U.S. leaders should learn this lesson.

Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.

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Elaine
Elaine
4 months ago

Biden and his administration does not care about our country or protecting the citizens who are the taxpayers that paid all of the bills and now burdened with so much of his debt! He sold the materials we paid for to finish protecting our southern border with Congress’ approval to build the wall. He sold our emergency oil reserves to our known enemies, so we have to buy from the enemy to fulfill our daily needs. Where did those funds end up in whose pockets? We have a greedy person/s as our leaders that can only see $$ signs!

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
4 months ago

You make it very clear how the gears can and should mesh with a missile defense system Ben . This is a very well researched bit of writing on this important topic. I appreciate it – because I appreciate freedom . Intelligent planning , organizing properly , learning from what has taken place recently as well as decades ago, it makes great sense to be prepared and then be prepared again. And the psychological factor is a consideration too . Anyone who was around during the President John F. Kennedy years – the Cuban missile crisis period – that was something that had an impact on the thinking of anyone who used their head for more than a hat rack then. I reckon that intelligence , courage, and resourcefulness will be factors that will help to build a genuine defense system that keeps the peace through strength spirit – that President Ronald Reagan believed in – going in order to see to it that Good will prevail in this world – and Evil will not destroy this world. In the spirit of God bless America, land of the free and home of the brave. Well done with this article , Ben . With respect. Courage. Let noble efforts guide us on the right course toward a future that respects , understanding, strength ,courage ,wisdom and truth. Let Liberty be the watchword.

anna hubert
anna hubert
4 months ago

Did not Romans say that to avoid the war one must be prepared for it ? David’s been fighting Goliath for a long time and knows that the only way to survive is to be ready On top of facing the outside enemy,I don’t know how ready we are , since the man in front is treacherous not to be trusted, we have no idea what the country is flooded with since there no longer is a border

Mario Capparuccini
Mario Capparuccini
4 months ago

To quote from the above article , “Joe Biden has offered no strategic vision”. This statement is going to up and give me a heart attack! The only strategic vision that Joe Biden has is to enrich himself as he utterly fails to discharge his duties!

Jerry
Jerry
4 months ago

I don’t think Biden don’t have the capacity to learn and Obama don’t care.

John
John
4 months ago

America always has to learn the hard way. Never learns from history.

Jackie
Jackie
4 months ago

I feel like we have spent the last two Democrat administrations degrading and defusing our military by budget cuts and now we have the deviate issue creeping into our military as well!!! How good are our missiles? How many do we have? Are we keeping up with the technology that other countries are coming up with? If war hit our shores tomorrow, would we be ready or would we flounder as our current leader does every single day??? I have my doubts because if the government has kept up with the military the same as it has the border, the budget, inflation, etc. we are in serious trouble!!!

John Shipway
John Shipway
4 months ago

Our cites are falling apart. Many of our elderly are forced to choose between food or healthcare. All sectors of our transportation infrastructure are in third world condition as indicated by the almost daily reports of hazardous chemical spills from trains derailing on ill kept railways.
But yeah, by all means spend trillions on anti ballistic missile systems in America to protect us from…..Canada and Mexico, those most feared of nations.
Get real and maybe lets take care of Joe CItizen for ONCE……..the fellah paying for all this utter nonsense.

Arthur Treacher
Arthur Treacher
4 months ago

Hi – I worked in the GMD program for 18 years. 9 as a contractor under the MDA umbrella and 9 as an army civilian running the training program for our soldiers. I have been retired for a few years now.
In my mind, this hot war gives our people a chance to develop our weapons and tactics by gaining real world experience with our stuff.
I equate this to our JEFX exercises that we ran back in the 1990’s.
USA should fully embrace this opportunity.
Name below is a pseudonym.
email is unmonitored, and probably no good. Please hide it.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
4 months ago

Revive SDI

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