Israeli navy declares ship-mounted version of Iron Dome operational

System known as C-Dome conducts final successful test against ‘real threats’ it may face while mounted on advanced corvettes guarding natural gas platforms

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

A ship-mounted version of the Iron Dome air defense system has been declared operational following a recent test, the Defense Ministry and the Israeli Navy announced Thursday.

In a joint statement, the ministry and military said the advanced model of the Iron Dome, known as C-Dome, underwent a successful test last month aboard the Sa’ar 6-class corvette INS Oz, simulating threats the system is likely to face at sea.

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

“The test simulated real threats and included the system’s successful detection and interception of targets in challenging scenarios,” the ministry said.

The tests, which the Iron Dome completed successfully, represented a “significant milestone in enhancing the capabilities of the corvettes” and marked “the final stage of the naval interception system’s operationalization,” the ministry said.

“The C-Dome System constitutes a significant addition to the Israeli Navy’s defense capabilities in a wide array of missions, including the guarding of strategic assets, the Exclusive Economic Zone, and maintaining the regional maritime superiority of the State of Israel,” it added.

Israeli Navy officers react as a ship-mounted Iron Dome intercepts a missile during a test in October 2022. (Defense Ministry)

In a video released by the ministry (above), the Iron Dome was seen intercepting a missile launched from another ship during the exercise. In previous tests the system has also been pitted against drones and cruise missiles.

The Iron Dome tests were conducted off the coast of central Israel, with representatives from the navy and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems taking part.

The announcement comes after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps was accused of striking an Israeli-owned oil tanker off the coast of Oman with an explosive-laden drone on Tuesday.

Tehran and Israel have been engaged in a years-long shadow war in the wider Middle East, with several drone attacks targeting Israeli-associated vessels around the region.

An Iron Dome missile defense system fires an interceptor from a Sa’ar-6 corvette, at a target during an exercise in early 2022. (Defense Ministry)

Commending the trial, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the system “expertly identified threats and successfully intercepted them.”

“C-Dome, the naval configuration of the Iron Dome, promotes further operational flexibility and has become a part of the State of Israel’s multi-tiered missile and air defense array,” he added.

The Israeli Air Force maintains a multi-tiered missile defense system, which is meant to protect the country from aerial threats.

The lowest layer of Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense system is the Iron Dome and still-in-development Iron Beam laser-based system. The middle tier is the David’s Sling system, which is designed to shoot down medium-range projectiles. The longest-range systems are the Arrow, designed to intercept large ballistic missiles, and the American-made Patriot system, which is used to shoot down aircraft.

However, even with the full complement of missile defense systems, defense officials warn that they will not offer a hermetic seal in the case of all-out war, and some rockets will inevitably slip past the defenses.

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