Hugh Pickens writes "Sarah Tory reports that the debut of Israel's Iron Dome missile defense shield has added a new element to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza strip, one that military officials are calling a 'game-changer.' Israeli officials are claiming that the shield is destroying 90 percent of missiles and rockets it aims at that have been fired into southern Israel by Hamas. This level of success is unprecedented compared with older missile defense systems such as the American-made Patriot model used during the 1991 Gulf War. The missile-defense system can detect rocket launches and then determine the projectiles' flight paths and only intercepts rocket or artillery shells if they are headed for populated areas or sensitive targets; the others it allows to land. It takes a lot of raw computing power to rapidly build a ballistic profile of a fast-incoming projectile, make a series of quick decisions concerning potential lethality, and launch a countermeasure capable of intercepting said projectile in-flight. One reason Iron Dome is showing a much more robust capability than the Patriot system did is simply that its battle control hardware and software are several generations more advanced than those early interceptor systems. 'Israeli officials point out that Iron Dome saves money despite the fact that the interceptors cost up to $100,000 each,' writes Tory. 'The cost of rebuilding a neighborhood destroyed by a rocket attack — not to mention people wounded and lives lost — would be far greater than the cost of the interceptor.' Most important, the system buys Israel time, allowing it to plan out an appropriate response without the political pressure that would be generated by hundreds of potential deaths."
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