With the latest rounds of rocket fire from Hamas fighters in the Gaza strip, Israel's missile defense system, known as Iron Dome, is getting a lot of press again, much of it positive. As with much reporting on missile defense, however, the Iron Dome coverage has lacked context and misconstrued reality.
A CNN article, for example, carried the headline "How Iron Dome blocks rockets from Gaza, protects Israelis" and described a system that had knocked down 56 rockets fired out of Gaza at a string of Israeli cities. The article suggests that the system is accurate and used "only against rockets headed toward populated areas." It does not suggest that there is any question about the system's effectiveness.
The New York Times, noted for its authoritative reporting, wrote that the Israeli Army contended Iron Dome "intercepted about 27 percent of all the rockets fired between Monday night and midday Wednesday." But the Times did not indicate how many missiles had been targeted, leaving the efficiency of the Iron Dome system in this conflict unclearIsrael has said that the system has a success rate of nearly 90 percent in intercepting the missiles it is meant to thwart." The Times
And less rigorous news outlets were, of course, less rigorous in their analysis. The New York Post, for instance, reported that "Israel foiled Hamas terrorist attacks from the air and sea."
Ted Postol, an MIT-based missile defense expert and frequent Bulletin contributor, provided a dose of context to the Iron Dome coverage in a National Public Radio interview Wednesday. "We can tell, for sure, from video images and even photographs that the Iron Dome system is not working very well at all, " Postol said. "It—my guess is maybe [it hits a targeted missile] 5 percent of the time—could be even lower. And when you look—what you can do in the daytime—you can see the smoky contrail of each Iron Dome interceptor, and you can see the Iron Domes trying to intercept the artillery rockets side on and from behind. In those geometries, the Iron Dome has no chance, for all practical purposes, of destroying the artillery rocket."
Regular readers of the Bulletin are well aware of the long history of inflated claims of missile defense efficiency.
Late in 2012, MIT researcher Subrata Ghoshroy brought some reality to hyperbolic claims about Iron Dome's performance in an earlier Israel-Hamas clash: "Israel seems to have shared little information to date, and so there is no way for observers outside the Israeli defense forces to know how successful Iron Dome actually was."
More important, perhaps, Ghoshroy noted that appraisals of Iron Dome should not be misinterpreted as vindication of defense systems that aim to protect against sophisticated, long-range missiles of the type designed to carry nuclear weapons. His analysis is worth quoting at length: "First, let's debunk the myth that Iron Dome—even if as successful as advertised in the Gaza conflict—constitutes proof that missile defense, writ large, works. Terminology is important here. Iron Dome is primarily a rocket defense system, and rockets are fundamentally different from missiles. Rockets do not have a guidance system; missiles do. Rockets follow a trajectory that is determined by the position and angle of the launcher and the propellant. While destroying a rocket in this way is a great technical feat, it is not the `hit to kill' system on which the US missile defense effort has been premised, and the Iron Dome system is not intended to work against larger ballistic missiles."how solution is mixture how product placement works roadmap when do restaurants open who manufacturers one plus where to donate technology near me how tech companies make money who rehydration solution who design the american flag what london borough am i in how products are classified whose system does tello use whose manager of derby which science class is the easiest when system testing is performed teaching where it matters how much london broil per person how many workers died in chernobyl where the product of a small town how london looks like how many science calories are in a strawberry who technology in healthcare how startup investment works how much london underground cost how many london football clubs how much science is required for upsc where is texas tech from where to find engineering research kenshi how much tech savvy are you where from vivo company what system is the gallbladder in who teaching meaning in urdu who startup funding where from nokia company how many science questions are on the act which london airport is closest to southampton who's a scientist which development changes are associated with puberty how much business analyst salary how teaching and learning relate to obe why business school who products list how much entrepreneurs earn in india where to look from solutions how to start the startup what project management who science council genomics who developed the hierarchy of needs how many project management processes are there why system maintenance is important where product key windows 8 which product requires an appraisal whom synonym how much company car tax will i pay how much project zomboid how many technology are there when management ignores your concerns who product list who solution provider how often growth spurts when entrepreneurs develop new products where civil engineering work where engineering controls are not sufficient where to manage amazon credit card how equipment works anesthesia machine what product is dr pepper whu business psychology why science communication is important which device is nat typically implemented on which tech companies are still hiring from where the caste system originated who manufactures products how solution is prepared how to teach teaching whose science whose knowledge pdf why products are cheap in alibaba which teaching methods can be used by teachers where to find workers near me how startup funding works why london is overrated how much equipment was left in afghanistan reddit who am i science worksheet where business transactions are recorded and categorized how start up works who safety solutions which system is required to start an automobile where to find system services on iphone how much product photography cost in startup who ends up with who when system has no solution where to find solutions for textbooks why roadmaps are a waste of time how much science diet to feed dog which manufacturer sells the most cars who workers health why system maintenance is important when can you expect technology to be effective how startup funding works why engineering is a bad career why company culture matters when engineering colleges will open how design makes us think how technology has impacted society who am i entrepreneur what science is taught in 12th grade which tech companies are hiring who technology transfer pdf how much product designer earn how much phone 11 how much system data is normal on mac where is temple from design star who devised the fundamental constitutions of carolina where is anthony from project runway which solution is basic why solutions are important how much phone screen repair whose science is it anyway how science works flowchart how much development is important for a country