What Weapons Did Israel Use to Block Iran’s Attack?

Israeli forces used two main defensive weapons, the Iron Dome and the Arrow 3, to shoot down most of the more than 300 drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles fired at its territory by Iran, while others were shot down by the United States and other allies. Here’s a look at the two Israeli systems:

Iron Dome

Israel’s Iron Dome defense system can intercept many types of rockets that fly in high arcs, making them difficult to stop. It became operational in 2011 and got its first big test over eight days in November 2014, when Gaza militants fired some 1,500 rockets at Israel. While Israeli officials claimed a success rate of up to 90 percent during that conflict, outside experts were skeptical.

The system’s interceptors — just 6 inches wide and 10 feet long — rely on miniature sensors and computerized guidance to zero in on short-range rockets. Israel’s larger interceptors — the Patriot and Arrow systems — can fly longer distances to go after bigger threats.

The Iron Dome was upgraded in 2021, but the details of the changes were not made public.

Just two days after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the Israeli government asked the United States to provide more precision-guided munitions for its combat aircraft and more interceptors for its Iron Dome missile defense system, according to a U.S. official.

As the death toll in the war in Gaza has climbed, Democrats have called for President Biden to cut off the flow of American arms to Israel — or impose conditions on their use. Mr. Biden recently hinted that he could put some restrictions on weapons sales if his warnings to limit civilian casualties in Gaza are not heeded, but said defensive weapons like the Iron Dome would never be in jeopardy.

Arrow 3

The Arrow 3, which represents the top tier of Israel’s multilayered air defense system, is designed to intercept ballistic missiles armed with nuclear and other nonconventional warheads outside the earth’s atmosphere.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel’s chief military spokesman, said on Sunday that the Arrow 3 had “proved itself against a significant number of ballistic missiles” fired by Iran.

The system, developed with substantial funding from the United States, is a project of Boeing and the government-owned Israel Aerospace Industries and its subsidiaries, in cooperation with the missile defense agencies of the two countries.

The Arrow 3, tested in 2015 when it intercepted a missile flying just above the atmosphere, is an improvement on its predecessor system, the Arrow 2. The newer version is faster and can maneuver in space, according to Israeli officials.

Israel said last August said that the U.S. government had approved its request to sell the Arrow 3 system to Germany, setting in motion a $3.5 billion agreement.

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