Air defenses are essential to Israel's security. Much of its population is within reach of rockets and missiles fired by Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the ballistic missiles fired by Yemen's Houthis. These defenses are also expensive.

Earlier this year, Israeli officials amended its 2024 budget to allocate $15 billion more in war spending as Israel's war in Gaza stretches the country's budget thin.

Iron Dome

The most well-known of Israel's air-defense system, the Iron Dome consists of a network of radar detectors and missile launchers used to intercept enemy fire, including short-range rockets and artillery.Deployed in southern Israel in 2011 following the war between Israel and Hezbollah, the US helped and funded the development of the short-range rocket defense system. It contributed at least $1.6 billion to the Iron Dome system from 2011 to 2021, as well as another $1 billion in 2022.

The first layer of defense


David's Sling

The middle layer of Israel's Iron Dome defense system is David's Sling, a medium- to long-range air defense system designed to intercept rockets fired from up to 185 miles.Also known as the Magic Wand, the versatile missile system carries up to 12 interceptors. Its command and control center, known as the Golden Almond, provides threat assessment and plans and controls interception, complemented by the system's multi-mission radar used to detect and track airborne threats.

Developed in collaboration with the US and Israel, David's Sling is "a central factor in Israel's multi-tiered defense array," according to Israel's Ministry of Defense, supporting other layers of its air defense system by "tackling large-caliber rockets, short-range ballistic missiles," and other types of enemy fire.


Arrow-3's "interceptor is a world-class missile that, together with the Arrow-2, significantly expands the State of Israel's defense capabilities," according to Israel's Ministry of Defense.In November 2023, Israel confirmed the first operational use of the Arrow-3 to stop an inbound enemy missile launched by Houthi militants from Yemen, making the first time all three layers of Israel's aerial defense were working simultaneously."All of these provide protection in every layer of aerial defense and enable optimal protection of the Israeli home front," the IDF said in a statement at the time.


Israel's air defense system isn't just limited to land. The country also has a naval version of its Iron Dome system, mounting it aboard Israeli missile boats.The naval version of the aerial defense system, known as C-Dome, is deployed aboard Sa'ar 6-class corvettes, four German-made warships ordered for Israel's navy.In addition to the C-Dome, Sa'ar 6 vessels are also equipped with a 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid main gun that's effective against close aerial threats.

Israeli missile boats

After two years of development, Israel's military announced Monday that the seaborne defense system was used for the first time to intercept a "suspicious aerial target" that entered Israeli airspace near the city of Eilat, which has been frequently targeted by Houthis in Yemen in support of Hamas."Overnight, for the first time ever, an IDF Sa'ar 6-class corvette missile ship successfully intercepted a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) that had approached from the east and had crossed into the area of the Gulf of Eilat," the IDF said.The Israeli naval fleet also includes 11 other warships in addition to the four Sa'ar 6-class corvettes, as well as five Dolphin-class submarines.



"All-in-one" missile system

Designed to carry up to eight canisterised missiles, including I-Derby SR, I-Derby ER, and Python-5 SR, it can engage up to four targets at a time, with a maximum range of up to 24.8 miles and an altitude of up to 7.4 miles, according to the fact sheet.In January, Israel's defense ministry announced a successful test run of the new weapons system configuration, which is capable of intercepting drones, aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, and precision-guided munitions.Rafael's SPYDER air defense system, in its All-In-One configuration, achieved a direct and effective hit during a recent, first of its kind test with the Israeli Ministry of Defense DDR&D. 

Kenn Lang'at

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