In first, IDF says ship-mounted Iron Dome downs hostile drone over Eilat

Aircraft taken out by C-Dome, deployed on Navy’s advanced corvettes; target had flown in from eastern direction from which Iran backed militias have fired at Israel

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

An Israeli Navy Sa'ar 6-class corvette launches two interceptor missiles from a C-Dome system at a suspected drone, in the Eilat Bay, late April 8, 2024. (Screenshot: X)
An Israeli Navy Sa'ar 6-class corvette launches two interceptor missiles from a C-Dome system at a suspected drone, in the Eilat Bay, late April 8, 2024. (Screenshot: X)

A ship-mounted version of the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a drone that entered Israeli airspace near the southernmost city of Eilat shortly before midnight on Monday, the military said, in what marked the first-ever operational use of the system.

The advanced model of the Iron Dome, known as C-Dome, is deployed to the Navy’s Sa’ar 6-class corvettes. It was declared operational in November 2022.

Drone infiltration sirens had sounded in Eilat after a “suspicious aerial target” entered Israeli airspace, the Israel Defense Forces said.

It later confirmed that the target was a hostile drone that had flown in from the eastern direction. In recent weeks there have been several drone attacks on the Eilat area carried out by an Iran-backed group in Iraq.

The IDF said the Navy tracked the drone before successfully shooting it down with the C-Dome system, marking its first operational use.

There were no reports of damage or injuries in the incident.

Beachgoers in Eilat filmed the moment of the interception over the southern city, which has come under attack several times amid the war in the Gaza Strip. Clips posted to social media showed two interceptor missiles being launched from the Sa’ar 6-class corvette.

On Tuesday morning, the Islamic Resistance of Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed paramilitary groups, claimed to have targeted an unspecified “vital target” in Israel, as well as the Hatzerim Airbase near Beersheba.

Iran-backed groups, including Yemen’s Houthis, the Islamic Resistance of Iraq, and a group in Syria linked to Lebanon’s Hezbollah have attacked Eilat numerous times since October 7.

In November, a school in Eilat was hit by a drone launched from Syria; in March, a cruise missile fired from Yemen struck an open area north of the city; earlier this month, a drone launched from Iraq struck a Navy hangar in the Eilat Bay; and also this month, a drone struck an open area in Jordan near southern Israel’s Ramon Airport.

The C-Dome — much like the ground version of the Iron Dome — is capable of downing rockets, cruise missiles, and drones, according to Israel’s Defense Ministry.

The Navy’s Sa’ar 6-class corvettes are normally tasked with guarding the natural gas platforms off Israel’s coast as well as its shipping lanes.

Amid repeated wartime cruise missile, drone, and ballistic missile attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, the Navy announced in December that it had also deployed the INS “Magen” Sa’ar 6-class corvette to the Red Sea for the first time.

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