Iron Dome marks 10 years of rocket interceptions

Publication Date14 Apr 2021
AuthorUri Berkovitz
Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) ELTA unit head of air defense projects Col. (res.) Rima Matzvich said that eight systems have been sold over the past year, "in the radar configuration of Iron Dome" for the air defense of the Czech Republic. Contracts have also been signed with Slovakia and Hungary.

Matzvich said, "The three countries have sought multi-purpose MMR radar for aerial and artillery use and have been attracted by a fully multi-purpose system which is battle proven. It is a genuine all-in-one radar with a broad perspective and an ability to cope with all threats, whether from an unmanned aerial vehicle, drone, and artillery from all ranges. It covers everything."

Iron Dome helped IAI to a record year of $4.2 billion in terms of revenue in 2020.

Israel's defense industries to a large extent gave birth to the country's high-tech sector. One milestone event was the cessation of the project to develop the Lavi fighter jet in 1986, which released thousands of talented and experienced engineers onto the market and into jobs in Israel's emerging tech ecosystem.

IAI is also increasing the amount it invests in R&D. In 2020 it invested $1.036 billion in R&D, up 13% from $909 million in 2019. Only $196 million came from IAI's own budget with the rest from customers ordering products that needed to be adapted to their unique needs.

Iron Dome is the fruit of collaboration between various Israeli defense companies led by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.. Exports of Iron Dome's radar system, which was developed by IAI Elta began seven years ago. The number of MMR units, the brain of Israel's air defense systems, which have been sold since then has totaled 150, including Iron Dome.

At an average price of NIS 27 million per system, total sales have brought in NIS 4 billion. IAI explains that the system has no fixed price because no one system is similar to another as each system is adapted to the needs of each customer.

Initial marketing was not easy, partly because Iron Dome was never developed with exports in mind. "The system was built for Israel's needs and to protect its citizens," recalls Brig. Gen. (res.) Pinhas Buchris who was Ministry of Defense director general when the project was first approved.

Sources close to the subject say that despite its Israel-oriented origins, they were still certain that Iron Dome would sell like hot cakes. But it turned out that there was no demand. To some extent that has been remedied by...

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