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Bankrupting terrorism – one interception at a time
Jerusalem Post ^ | 11/24/2012 21:47 | AKIVA HAMILTON

Posted on 11/25/2012 12:50:31 AM PST by ilcenter

A Facebook friend of mine recently posted: “I love you, Iron Dome, and I want to have your babies.”

Such is the outpouring of love and appreciation for an extraordinary piece of Israeli technology that has saved many lives in southern and central Israel.

Nevertheless, despite this appreciation, there has been little analysis of the true strategic significance of Iron Dome.

Iron Dome is a game-changer that not only consigns Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s current terror model to the trash can, it completely undermines the military doctrines of all of Israel’s enemies.

Before we discuss this fundamental strategic shift in detail, it is necessary to address a number of important misconceptions that are clouding this reality.

Firstly, Iron Dome is no longer just a short-range missile defense system. The fifth Iron Dome battery, deployed months early just outside Tel Aviv on Saturday, features a significantly improved radar system (by Elta, an unsung hero of the Iron Dome story) and software upgrades that turn this system into a short- and medium-range missile defense system.

While Iron Dome is regularly described as being able to hit rockets with up to a 70 km. range, according to the IDF this new upgrade allows it to intercept Fajr 5 (range 75 km.) and ZelZal (range 200 km.) missiles. Thus, the defense system is already achieving a significant part of what Israel’s forthcoming mediumrange missile defense system, David’s Sling, is intended to achieve.

Secondly, Iron Dome’s Tamir interceptors don’t really cost $40,000 to $50,000 each to manufacture. Like any high technology system, the vast majority of the costs of Iron Dome are systems development and manufacturing setup.

These fixed costs are spread over the number of items estimated to be manufactured and priced accordingly. However, if the number of items produced substantially exceeds the initial estimate, costs drop proportionately.

The actual marginal cost of production of a Tamir interceptor is low and reflects the costs of the basic raw materials; metal, fuel, explosives and electronic components used in its manufacture, and the labor required to run the assembly line. If the IDF ends up ordering 10 times as many interceptors as originally estimated, then their “cost” will likely drop to around $5,000. At 100 times as many the “cost” will approach the marginal cost of less than $1000.

Thirdly, the real cost of the rockets and missiles which Iron Dome intercepts is vastly underestimated by most commentators. Grad rockets may well cost Iran only $1,000 each on the open market, but this is not the delivered cost to Hamas in Gaza.

The supply line from Iran to Gaza is an extremely convoluted and expensive one which involves huge losses from IAF action bombing convoys and factories in Sudan, and interception by western navies. Large bribes have to be paid at every step of the way, particularly to the Beduin in Sinai and the Egyptian soldiers in Rafah who are supposed to be stopping the smuggling.

And the losses continue once the Grad gets to Gaza, with the IDF regularly destroying rocket caches. Thus, 1,000 Grads, which cost Iran $1 million to purchase, may end up as 300 Grads which cost a further $2 million in “delivery charges.” This turns a $1,000 Grad rocket in Iran into a $10,000 Grad rocket in Gaza.

Fourthly, Iron Dome is fundamentally a highly advanced computer system with a very rapid upgrade cycle. So far Iron Dome is matching pace with the iPhone for major software and hardware upgrades, and consequent performance increases.

This will not only continue but will actually accelerate in accordance with Moore’s Law and Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns which state that the performance of computer systems increases exponentially with time.

With each upgrade the interception rate will improve and the range of missiles it can intercept may also improve further. It is therefore that we can expect Iron Dome to reach a 95 percent or higher interception rate in the next year or two, and to continue to improve as the speed and processing power of the computers that make up its brain and eyes (radar) advance.

The practical upshot of this is that the number of rockets per Israeli fatality has risen from 50-75 (Lebanon and Gaza pre-Iron Dome) to 300 in 2011 (75% interception) and around 500 in 2012 (90% interception), despite Hamas using more lethal rockets.

The strategic implications are that the current rocket-based terror strategy of Hamas and Hezbollah has been rendered both ineffective and economically unsustainable. I estimate it is currently costing Hamas (and thus its patron Iran) around $5m. (500 rockets at $10,000 each) to murder a single Israeli. When Iron Dome reaches 95% interception rate these figures will double and at 97.5% they will double again.

Contrary to some suggestions, the terrorists cannot bankrupt Israel by firing millions of rockets because the real cost of their rockets exceeds the marginal cost of the Tamir interceptor.

Moreover, most rockets miss and Iron Dome ignores them. Indeed, this strategy will bankrupt Iran even more quickly than President Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defense strategy bankrupted the Soviet Union.

This is devastating not only to the terror strategy of Hamas and Hezbollah, but also to the military doctrines of Israel’s nation state enemies, such as Iran and Syria, which have heavily invested in missiles and rockets to compensate for their weak air power.

Iron Dome is already 90% effective against many of Syria’s medium-range missiles, and Israel’s Arrow 2 missile defense system is similarly effective against Iran’s long-range missiles. The remaining components of Israel’s comprehensive multi-layer missile defense umbrella, David’s Sling and Arrow 3, will become operational in 2013/14 and will follow a similar technological upgrade trajectory as Iron Dome. As a result, the enemy’s missile arsenals will continue to decline in effectiveness at exponential rates as interception rates of Israel’s missile defense systems increase.

Iran, Syria and their terror proxies are fighting a losing battle with the exponential rate of technological progress in a field in which Israel leads the world.

Iron Dome is a game-changer that heralds the end of rockets and missiles which are being used by the less technologically advanced. In a sense, just like the organization I work for bankrupts terrorism one lawsuit at a time, the Iron Dome does so one interception at a time.

The writer is an attorney at Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, a civil rights organization and world leader in combating terrorism through lawsuits. Their website: www.israellawcenter.org


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Israel; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: hamas; idf; irondome; israel

1 posted on 11/25/2012 12:50:38 AM PST by ilcenter
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To: ilcenter

The US, South Korea... maybe Taiwan and other countries should be buying up Iron Dome.


2 posted on 11/25/2012 1:25:04 AM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: ilcenter

That’s very encouraging.

However, it’s hard to believe that Iran or China or Russia can’t engineer ways to make cheap mass produced offensive missiles more deadly.

This looks the beginning of a classic arms race, actually.


3 posted on 11/25/2012 1:57:02 AM PST by zeestephen
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To: ilcenter
  This is devastating not only to the terror strategy of Hamas and Hezbollah, but also to the military doctrines of Israel’s nation state enemies, such as Iran and Syria, which have heavily invested in missiles and rockets to compensate for their weak air power.

4 posted on 11/25/2012 2:05:51 AM PST by Maurice Tift (You can't stop the signal, Mal. You can never stop the signal.)
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To: ilcenter
ilcenter,

Thanks for your back-to-back posts.

Very informative.

And the first time I've felt a flash of optimism about Israel's survival in several years.

Are you located in the USA, Israel, or some place else?

5 posted on 11/25/2012 2:20:10 AM PST by zeestephen
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To: zeestephen

The Iron will need to become smarter and thicker as Moose missiles learn to dodge (right now it assumes dumb rockets and ignores those headed for open lands).


6 posted on 11/25/2012 2:57:12 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: zeestephen

There was a flash of optimism long ago for Israel’s survival. It was in the burning bush.


7 posted on 11/25/2012 2:58:22 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: ilcenter

I agree with the premise of this article. I would add that much of the money spent on this system stays in Israel... it stays as profits for the manufacturers and salary for the workers and designers.

The real cost is the actual value of the physical components and the fact that the workers ingenuity and labor would be better spent doing something more productive.

There is a possibility that Israel may end up turning a profit on all this. They certainly are the world leader in this technology and foreign sales to western powers and perhaps India/Taiwan/S.Korea just might make a business of this :-)

Mortar fire is a difficult problem for towns close to Gaza though, Iron dome is not cost efficient against mortars since they are very cheap. The proper defense against mortars is a Phalanx like system. The problem is that the massive barrage of bullets thrown by a Phalanx aimed at the sky will fall back on Gaza and cause casualties. Yes, Israel worries about casualties in Gaza and that is why they are not using Phalanx.


8 posted on 11/25/2012 3:03:16 AM PST by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
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To: Bobalu

If I were Bibi I’d say that’s over-squeamish. Don’t shoot the Phalanx gratuitously, but do use it as needed when there is incoming, and too bad so sad if it rains destruction upon the areas from which the incoming came. Tell them to police the terrorists out of their territory if they don’t want that.


9 posted on 11/25/2012 3:24:16 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: ilcenter

Not hearing a whole lot of thanks in that article.
But you’re welcome.


10 posted on 11/25/2012 3:43:42 AM PST by nuconvert ( Khomeini promised change too // Hail, Chairman O)
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To: nuconvert

Well, this was an Israeli, and he ought to be thanking God. This wasn’t something off the US shelf, so what’s the “you’re welcome” about?


11 posted on 11/25/2012 4:02:30 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: nuconvert

Iron Dome was developed by Rafael. Do you work for them or something? Why do you think you are owed thanks by the author of the article?


12 posted on 11/25/2012 4:34:43 AM PST by dinodino
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To: Fred Nerks

Ping.


13 posted on 11/25/2012 4:35:21 AM PST by Candor7 (Obama fascism article:(http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/barack_obama_the_quintessentia_1.html))
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To: ilcenter
I knew playing Missile Command in my youth would pay off someday. Maybe the Israeli's will call me soon?


14 posted on 11/25/2012 4:44:59 AM PST by WildWeasel
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To: ilcenter

-——Moreover, most rockets miss and Iron Dome ignores them———

This is the money sentence. In the first instance, the rockets are not accurate enough to be an unmanageable threat. To become more accurate, the rockets must become much more expensive and technical. The technical part is important because it means those who tend the rockets must have educations that are unobtainable.

-———with the exponential rate of technological progress-——

It is pleasing to read words of an educated person/journalist who knows the correct term is exponential and not parabolic


15 posted on 11/25/2012 4:50:23 AM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Present failure and impending death yield irrational action))
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To: Bobalu
"The problem is that the massive barrage of bullets thrown by a Phalanx aimed at the sky will fall back on Gaza and cause casualties. Yes, Israel worries about casualties in Gaza and that is why they are not using Phalanx."

For mortars, you need a laser-based system. Photons aren't effected by gravity over the distances needed. And rate of fire should be higher. I suspect some Israeli defense lab (and a few US labs) are working on this.

16 posted on 11/25/2012 5:37:54 AM PST by Wonder Warthog
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To: Wonder Warthog

I was thinking perhaps bullets that explode after a certain short period of time. It would drastically reduce the shrapnel that would fall on Gaza...would raise the cost per bullet from say a dollar to several dollars though.

Hats off to you for knowing photons actually are subject to gravity...most don’t know that :-)

The trouble with a laser system is cycling the capacitor bank quickly enough...and heating.


17 posted on 11/25/2012 5:51:18 AM PST by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
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To: Bobalu
"The trouble with a laser system is cycling the capacitor bank quickly enough...and heating."

Think of a pulsed CO2 laser system configured like a mini-gun (i.e. with separate laser tubes and with capacitor banks for each "barrel"/tube). Desired rate of fire optimized by number of tubes to take care of the capacitor recharge/heating difficulties.

Even a chemist has to know that photons are "subject to gravity".... ;^)

18 posted on 11/25/2012 6:12:23 AM PST by Wonder Warthog
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To: HiTech RedNeck; dinodino

The U.S. helped fund it with hundreds of millions of dollars, and will be giving more more money to continue funding it.

Some mention would have been nice.


19 posted on 11/25/2012 6:12:59 AM PST by nuconvert ( Khomeini promised change too // Hail, Chairman O)
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To: nuconvert

I didn’t realize that. It’s a nice piece of technology.


20 posted on 11/25/2012 6:23:07 AM PST by dinodino
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To: dinodino

Yes, and we weren’t even sure it would work when we gave them $200 million.


21 posted on 11/25/2012 6:25:47 AM PST by nuconvert ( Khomeini promised change too // Hail, Chairman O)
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To: Wonder Warthog
Even a chemist has to know that photons are "subject to gravity".... ;^)

Hey, you can't do a phukin thing without chemists! :-)

I have been there when a room full of caps were able to deliver a microsecond pulse as great as the power consumption of the entire country. Lots of heavy silver wiring, spark gap system since no solid state switch could come close :-) POP! it was able to crush oil drums into a crumpled mess of metal.

Chemists, they are intense ;-)


22 posted on 11/25/2012 7:02:21 AM PST by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
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To: bert

Exponential and not linear is what you meant.


23 posted on 11/25/2012 7:05:33 AM PST by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
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To: Bobalu
The problem is that the massive barrage of bullets thrown by a Phalanx aimed at the sky will fall back on Gaza and cause casualties.

I was happy to see a similar variant used while I was stationed in Iraq call a C-RAM. The Phalanx system used self-detonating incendiary shells. When the weapon fired at an incoming rocket it looked like a combination laser light show and fireworks show at the same time. The shells that did not impact the incoming rocket detonated harmlessly above the ground so there was no fear of casualties on the ground.

24 posted on 11/25/2012 7:33:40 AM PST by Traveler59 ( Truth is a journey, not a destination.)
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To: ilcenter
The actual marginal cost of production of a Tamir interceptor is low and reflects the costs of the basic raw materials; metal, fuel, explosives and electronic components used in its manufacture, and the labor required to run the assembly line. If the IDF ends up ordering 10 times as many interceptors as originally estimated, then their “cost” will likely drop to around $5,000. At 100 times as many the “cost” will approach the marginal cost of less than $1000.

I've been in the business of making electronic components for Patriot missiles and radar systems. I don't believe it.

25 posted on 11/25/2012 7:45:16 AM PST by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party: advancing indenture since 1787.)
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To: ilcenter
The practical upshot of this is that the number of rockets per Israeli fatality has risen from 50-75 (Lebanon and Gaza pre-Iron Dome) to 300 in 2011 (75% interception) and around 500 in 2012 (90% interception), despite Hamas using more lethal rockets.

There is no analysis here of the cost to Israel of the disruption when under missile attack. Everybody heads for shelters. They are not working.

26 posted on 11/25/2012 7:49:35 AM PST by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party: advancing indenture since 1787.)
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To: ilcenter
The practical upshot of this is that the number of rockets per Israeli fatality has risen from 50-75 (Lebanon and Gaza pre-Iron Dome) to 300 in 2011 (75% interception) and around 500 in 2012 (90% interception), despite Hamas using more lethal rockets.

Nor does this analysis include the cost to Israel of maintaining the interdiction effort to interrupt supply to Gaza. These are not trustworthy numbers.

Further, when (not if) the Palis go to CBW, how effective will the Iron Dome be then?

I applaud the performance of the Iron Dome. But I do not think it is nearly the "gamechanger" proffered here.

27 posted on 11/25/2012 7:55:06 AM PST by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party: advancing indenture since 1787.)
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To: Carry_Okie

“then their “cost” will likely drop to around $5,000. At 100 times as many the “cost” will approach the marginal cost of less than $1000.”.
Pure B.S.
If they are currently running about $50,000 a shot, mass deployment and R&D will likely net them some savings, but it will be minimal. In the mean time, the terrorists are winning with $1000 a shot rockets that someone else is paying for. Who is bankrupting whom?
And I use the term “winning” because the leftist propaganda is always going to portray Israel as the big bad bully.


28 posted on 11/25/2012 8:00:32 AM PST by bitterohiogunclinger (Proudly casting a heavy carbon footprint as I clean my guns ---)
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To: bitterohiogunclinger

I’m sure you saw some of the discussion here quickly turn to lasers. That’s where the marginal cost of use really drops.


29 posted on 11/25/2012 8:04:48 AM PST by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party: advancing indenture since 1787.)
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To: Carry_Okie
I've been in the business of making electronic components for Patriot missiles and radar systems. I don't believe it.

Coming from a similar background, I agree with you 100%. While Iron Dome is certainly better than nothing, a better alternative approach toward defending against high-volume, low-tech rockets barrages that is more economically viable (lasers, TBD) is needed.

Asymmetric warfare requires creative thinking - not necessarily tons more money on high tech gadgets that are easily defeated by low tech tactics for a relative pittance. Or at least high tech solutions with "ammo" that costs less. In the interim it's the best thing they've got, so they'll have to pay to keep it going. But claims that it's "the answer" to low tech rocket attacks just sound like a sales job to me.

As for the claims in the article - the current costs don't match up with many other reports I've seen, even ignoring the super optimistic future cost projections. Does the author have a stake in selling more high tech Iron Dome systems and/or missiles?

30 posted on 11/25/2012 8:06:57 AM PST by MCH
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To: zeestephen

The US and Russia were in an arms race. The US “won” by bankrupting Russia. Same idea here, essentially.


31 posted on 11/25/2012 10:18:06 AM PST by generally (Don't be stupid. We have politicians for that.)
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To: Carry_Okie
The actual marginal cost of production of a Tamir interceptor is low and reflects the costs of the basic raw materials; metal, fuel, explosives and electronic components used in its manufacture, and the labor required to run the assembly line. If the IDF ends up ordering 10 times as many interceptors as originally estimated, then their “cost” will likely drop to around $5,000. At 100 times as many the “cost” will approach the marginal cost of less than $1000.
Once and for all, the money spent on development is gone - a sunk cost. That is a cost of having decided you need the capability. The cost of deciding to engage a an individual target (and to buy a replacement interceptor missile to replace the expended missile) Is " the marginal cost of less than $1000.”
I've been in the business of making electronic components for Patriot missiles and radar systems. I don't believe it.
When you make again as many of something as you have made in all previous history, you will (by spending money on improved production methods) cut the cost of production of that item by something on the order of 25% (the reason Moore’s Law has held over the decades is that the marginal utility of semiconductor logic has held up under the onslaught of so many quick doublings of supply).
There is of course no question that dumb interceptors like rail gun projectiles or destructive laser pulses would be more cost-effective on a unit cost basis than guided rockets can be.

32 posted on 11/25/2012 11:13:20 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which “liberalism" coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
Once and for all, the money spent on development is gone - a sunk cost. That is a cost of having decided you need the capability.

Well duh. Given that I have also been an R&D project manager with responsibility for conceiving, designing, and installing the production machinery worldwide for making high volume low cost disposable products, one would think I would know what a sunk cost was.

The cost of deciding to engage a an individual target (and to buy a replacement interceptor missile to replace the expended missile) Is " the marginal cost of less than $1000.”

It won't be even close to that low. No way.

33 posted on 11/25/2012 1:06:27 PM PST by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party: advancing indenture since 1787.)
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To: nuconvert

OK, I hear you.

I would have thought this was done on condition that the US can in turn build on Israeli improvements, so if we wanted to “Dome” Washington, DC we could. On the other hand, the current administration would just as soon leak it to all Araby out of “fairness.” It’s hard to know what sort of treachery would be beyond Big Ears’ administration.


34 posted on 11/25/2012 1:50:25 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: MCH
While Iron Dome is certainly better than nothing, a better alternative approach toward defending against high-volume, low-tech rockets barrages that is more economically viable (lasers, TBD) is needed.

What is need is to take the war to the enemy. Civilizations for centuries have built fortresses to protect them, none have ever worked. Israel should have some history with that concept.

35 posted on 11/25/2012 11:08:45 PM PST by itsahoot (Any enemy, that is allowed to have a King's X line, is undefeatable. (USS Taluga AO-62))
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