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Israel’s Defence Shield: Iron Dome, Arrow, David’s Sling And More

Israel has been honing its air defences since coming under Iraqi Scud salvoes in the 1991 Gulf war.
Israel’s Defence Shield
File Photo: Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, after a temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas expired, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, December 1, 2023. (Amir Cohen/REUTERS)

Israel used a multi-layered defence shield to block Iran’s mass drone and missile attack on Israeli territory overnight. Its defensive array includes short-range Iron Dome and long-range Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missiles.

Israel has been honing its air defences since coming under Iraqi Scud salvoes in the 1991 Gulf war.


The long-range Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 system, developed by Israel with an Iranian missile threat in mind, is part of Israel’s defence shield designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside the earth’s atmosphere, using a detachable warhead that collides with the target.

It operates at an altitude that allows for the safe dispersal of any non-conventional warheads.

State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries is the project’s main contractor, while Boeing is involved in producing the interceptors.

On October 31, Israel’s military said it had used the Arrow aerial defence system for the first time since the October 7 outbreak of the war with Hamas to intercept a surface-to-surface missile in the Red Sea fired towards its territory.

On September 28, Germany signed a letter of commitment with Israel to buy the Arrow-3 missile defence system for nearly 4 billion euros ($4.2 billion).


The mid-range David’s Sling system is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles fired from 100 km to 200 km away.

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Developed and manufactured jointly by Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the U.S. Raytheon Co, David’s Sling is also designed to intercept aircraft, drones and cruise missiles.


The short-range Iron Dome air defence system was built to intercept the kind of rockets fired by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza.

Developed by state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with U.S. backing, it became operational in 2011. Each truck-towed unit fires radar-guided missiles to blow up short-range threats like rockets, mortars and drones in mid-air.

Rafael says it delivered two Iron Dome batteries to the U.S. Army in 2020. Ukraine is seeking a supply as well in its war with Russia, though Israel has so far only provided Kyiv with humanitarian support and civil defences.

A naval version of the Iron Dome to protect ships and sea-based assets was deployed in 2017.
The system quickly determines whether a rocket is on course to hit a populated area; if not, the rocket is ignored and allowed to land harmlessly.

Iron Dome was originally billed as providing city-sized coverage against rockets with ranges of between 4 and 70 km (2.5 to 43 miles), but experts say this has since been expanded.


Israel’s interception systems cost between tens of thousands and millions of dollars to shoot down incoming threats. Israel is developing a laser-based system to neutralise enemy rockets and drones at an estimated cost of just $2 per interception.