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OPINION

Israeli air defense isn't panacea, Ukraine has more effective example

22 April, 2024 Monday
20:11
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The Israeli concept, for all its high efficiency, is effective for Israel, but not for Ukraine

After Iran's combined strike against Israel, which was the largest missile attack in the history of the confrontation between the two countries, was successfully repelled with minimal damage, many began to talk about how Ukraine needs the same air defense system. It would seem that what more evidence is needed to prove the effectiveness of Israel's air defense system? However, the reality is not as simple as it seems at first glance.

It's not just about the Iron Dome

On the night of April 13-14, Iranian forces launched 400 to 500 air strikes at Israel, including various types of 'kamikaze' drones such as Shahed-136, Fava cruise missiles, Emad ballistic missiles, and more.

The result exceeded all expectations: the rate of downed weapons was 99%. Taking into account the mass, variety of nomenclature and interception algorithms, Iranian missiles failed to penetrate Israel's air defense, and damage was minimized.

Amid such a high performance in repelling large-scale threats, Ukraine is once again talking about the Iron Dome and the need to borrow from the Israelis their concept of building a layered air defense system.

The idea is very interesting, but, unfortunately, there are several nuances that make it untenable. And I want to emphasize right away that this is not about the failure of the idea of obtaining certain types of SAMs, the Iron Dome, but about the very concept of building an Israeli-type air defense system.

Nuance one — Israel is not “one on one”

In the context of the successful repulsion of the attack on Israel, it is unfair to talk only about the Israeli air defense system that was guarding the airspace. We should also mention that the allied forces, together with the Israelis, repelled the attack.

This includes comprehensive support to the US Air Force, the French Air Force and Navy, the UK Air Force, the Jordanian Air Force's work on targets in its airspace, and intelligence support of the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Israel was not face-to-face with the threat posed by Iran, but rather a comprehensive approach by the allies to repel the attack.

Nuance two — the area of Israel

It is just over 22,000 km². For a better understanding, the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimean peninsula is 27,000 km².

Such an area allows for a dense, saturated echelon covering a much larger area of the country with long-, medium-, and short-range components. And the denser and more saturated the echelon, the more difficult it is to break through such air defense.

To create a perfect air defense security umbrella for the country, Israel needs far fewer components of each echelon than Ukraine would need to implement a similar concept.

Nuance three — distances

And finally, Israel's third advantage is its distance from the aggressor country of Iran. And this is, no less than a thousand kilometers in a straight line!

With such distances, any threat from Iran is notified in advance. The approach time of a 'kamikaze' drone can take 7-8 hours, a subsonic cruise missile - more than an hour, and a ballistic missile - an average of 30 minutes. During this time, it is possible not only to notify the population of the danger, but also to put all forces on full combat alert, to raise aircraft into the air and be fully armed to shoot down enemy targets.

Ukraine simply does not have this luxury. Ballistic missile approach time to Kharkiv is a matter of seconds, to Odesa - a matter of minutes. A 'kamikaze' drone can cover the distance from the border with Russia to Kharkiv in 8-10 minutes, and to Odesa in an hour and a half, but since they fly at low altitudes above the sea, they can only be detected when approaching the city.

Of course, this concept can be considered for the deep rear of Ukraine, the central or western regions, but I repeat: the average region in Ukraine is as large as Israel itself.

Conclusions

Israeli air defense worked perfectly in repelling the Iranian attack. But this concept of building air defense works well in Israel because of its small area, its great distance from the aggressor country, and the help of its allies. But if you remove any of these factors, what would be the result?

A similar question concerns the frequency of such massive strikes. If Iran were to rely on their systematic nature, for example, every two or three days, how long would Israel and its allies have the resources to maintain a high level of effectiveness at a constant level?

Today, Ukraine has created one of the best echelon air defense systems in Europe and deployed it in Kyiv. This concept, as we can see, works with very high efficiency, even with the proximity of the border with Russia and the absence of direct support from allies in repelling missile attacks. This concept, which is ideally suited to Ukrainian conditions, should be implemented in other cities (taking into account their specifics) - in Odesa and Kharkiv.

The Israeli concept, for all its high efficiency, is effective for Israel, but not for Ukraine.

Source 

About the author: Oleksandr Kovalenko, military and political observer of the Information Resistance group.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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