Sunday, November 25, 2012

Israel's Missile Defense Shields - Part 1: IRON DOME

How Does Israel's Iron Dome Work?
Although the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas are now over, one thing that came out of the conflict was clear: Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense Shield is indeed a game changer.  According to analysts I have read, Iron Dome intercepted somewhere between 85%-90% of the missiles Hamas launched at Israel.

As Iron Dome and Israel's other missile defense systems are gradually built out, both Israel's nation-state (Iran) and non-state enemies (Hezbollah and Hamas) will find that the missiles they fire at the Israeli civilian population will become less and less effective.  Of course, some will still get through as Iron Dome has not achieved a 100% success rate yet, but certainly the damage will be far less then if the Israelis did not have Iron Dome.

I read a fascinating article by a Mr. Avika Hamilton recently on the Real Clear World website that looked more closely at Iron Dome.  The article makes a number a number of really interesting points about the system, but what I found most interesting was the way the article compared Iron Dome to an advanced computer software project - and even mentions the iPhone:
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.
For anyone who has ever worked in software design, this all rings true.  For example, when one buys an advanced Cisco router, the "special sauce" is not in the hardware, it is in the software, and it is really the software upgrades that continue to drive the product's performance improvements as new feature sets are added.  And so it is with Iron Dome as well.

For those interested, below is another overview of how Iron Dome works and here is the article referenced above

Israel's Iron Dome destroyed 84% of missiles fired from Gaza that were due to hit civilian populated areas.

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