25 February 2008

Protecting Sderot and the murky waters of politics

Dr. Reuven Pedatzur, a person whose opinion one should certainly respect in all matters military, writes in Haaretz on the amazing discovery: the much touted Iron Dome anti-rocket system will not be able to protect Sderot from the Qassams. He demolishes the whole idea using simple arithmetics, so you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand it:

The distance from the edge of Beit Hanun to the outskirts of Sderot is 1,800 meters. Therefore, a rocket launched from Beit Hanun takes about nine seconds to hit Sderot. The developers of Iron Dome at Rafael Advance Defense Systems know that the preparations to simply launch the intercept missiles at their target take up to about 15 seconds (during which time the system locates the target, determines the flight path and calculates the intercept route). Obviously, then, the Qassam will slam into Sderot quite a number of seconds before the missile meant to intercept it is even launched.

But besides not being able to protect the border communities, Iron Dome will also not be able to cope with rockets that are launched much farther away. According to data available from Rafael, the average flight time of the intercept missile to the point of encounter is another 15 seconds. In other words, to intercept a rocket using Iron Dome requires at least 30 seconds. This is the time it takes a Qassam to cover six kilometers.
Pedatzur adds:
The disturbing question is why no one bothered to apprise the prime minister of this simple calculation, to make it clear to him that Iron Dome, in the development of which his government decided to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, will not be able to protect Sderot.
The article was published on February 22, and today (February 24) Olmert continued touting Iron Dome as the ultimate solution:
Olmert said the protection of Gaza-area communities will include a combination of solutions such as the Iron Dome defense system, an early-warning system, new school buildings in addition to the partial fortification of homes.
Strange, ain't it? And there are more disturbing questions, such as the cost of each intercept missile (about $100,000), its ability to tackle mortar shells (about 0), but most of all the curious (to say the least) rejection of all and any US-made protective systems. It looks like a pathological case of NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome:
Part of the explanation for the opposition to the laser system may lie in remarks made by Shimon Lavie, from the R&D directorate, who was the officer of the Nautilus project in the United States, on the "Fact" TV program, broadcast on Channel 2 last December. "We in the directorate are responsible for developing blue-and-white [Israeli-made] systems, which the Nautilus was not. We had hoped for intense cooperation with Israeli firms. If that had happened, it might have had an influence [on the decision about whether to acquire the laser system]."
Bingo. There is no need to add anything, is there? The article mentions other strange items, such as the fate of the (initially) joint US-Israeli development of the laser defense system Nautilus / Skyguard, and much more - worth reading in its entirety.

It is also worth mentioning that while the citizens of Sderot remain unprotected and crying for help and while mandarins fight their turf wars, several anti-rocket and anti-mortar systems are coming to maturity and being used in the field, protecting US troops in Iraq.

Another expert claims that the solution to Qassams already exists.
Farber's suggestion is to deploy American artillery batteries called Phalanx around the Qassam-battered town of Sderot, to intercept the rockets fired by Palestinians.

The U.S. army has been successfully operating the system in Iraq, where it provides its bases with protection from rockets and mortar shells.
Something definitely smells fishy in the whole business.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.