A year and five months after the Iron Dome
intercepted its first rocket, President Shimon Peres
has awarded the inventors of the aerial defense system the Israel Defense Prize
The system, which boasts an 80% success rate, has spared residents of southern Israel
from bodily harm and has saved their towns from extensive property damage. The army currently owns four Iron Dome batteries, and is expected to obtain two additional ones by the end of the year.
The prestigious prize was granted to eight engineers who work for the Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Air Force.
"We aren't threatening anyone and aren't afraid of threats issued against us," Peres said at award ceremony, which was held at the President's Residence in Jerusalem. "Israel can ward off any threat, whether it is made near or far... I advise our enemies against underestimating our overt and covert capabilities."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
also took part in the event.
Yossi Druker, the head of the air defense directorate at Rafael, told Ynet that the US and six other countries located in Asia, Europe and South America have expressed interest in purchasing Iron Dome batteries for their own use.
"The interest comes from countries with possible zones of conflict that are similar to those that Israel has… The Americans expressed interest in the system to use in Iraq and Afghanistan, where their bases are exposed to rocket fire," he said.
The system has been significantly upgraded in recent weeks, and more changes are to come.
"All the improvements that we've made are on the software level, which means the changes were relatively cheap and did not touch upon rocket dismantlement," Druckman said. "(…) The system now has far better capabilities for dealing with rocket barrages… Our next goal is to incorporate as many targets as possible in the Iron Dome's interception capability, in a manner that would save the State a lot of money."
In addition to the Iron Dome developers, 16 others were awarded the Israel Defense Prize, including one woman. The latter winners worked on two operational projects whose nature is classified.