Ship-mounted Iron Dome system aces fresh tests

C-Dome, declared operational in November, successfully shoots down maritime threats in simulation earlier this month

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

An Iron Dome missile defense system fires an interceptor from a Sa’ar-6 corvette, at a target during an exercise in May 2023. (Defense Ministry)

The Defense Ministry and Navy said Monday they had recently successfully carried out a new series of tests of a ship-mounted version of the Iron Dome air defense system.

The test earlier this month came after the system, known as C-Dome, was declared operational on the Sa’ar 6-class corvette INS Oz in November.

During the recent test, the C-Dome mounted on the Sa’ar 6-class corvette INS Magen intercepted projectiles simulating threats the system is likely to face at sea.

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

“The C-Dome system constitutes a significant leap forward in our defense capabilities and ensures the Israeli defense establishment’s superiority and operational capabilities in the face of growing threats in the maritime arena,” said Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in remarks provided by his office.

Israeli-owned ships have faced increasing threats from Iran in the Persian Gulf. As recently as November, a vessel associated with an Israeli billionaire was struck by a drone launched from an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps base in Iran.

The C-Dome, much like the ground version of the Iron Dome, is capable of downing rockets, cruise missiles, and drones, the ministry said.

Brig. Gen. (Res.) Daniel Gold, head of Israel’s Defense Research and Development Directorate (DRDD), said the tests were part of a broader range of efforts aimed at improving Israel’s air and missile defense technology at its disposal.

“The campaign’s success further strengthens our confidence in the defense systems and their ability to protect extensive areas as well as the State of Israel’s strategic assets on land and at sea,” he said.

The lowest layer of Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense system is the Iron Dome and the 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 interceptor shot down a rocket from the Gaza Strip it its first real-world interception during a five-day clash between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group earlier in May.

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 have warned that they will not provide a hermetic seal in the case of all-out war, and some rockets will inevitably slip past.

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