IAF’ F-15 Fighter Jet Almost Shot-Down By Israeli Iron Dome Missile Defense System

The Israeli Iron Dome almost shot down one of its own F-15 fighter jets during the recent conflict with Hamas, according to reports. This is the second blunder involving the Iron Dome this year.

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Considered one of the deadliest missile interceptors in the world, the Israeli Iron Dome played a critical role in the military conflict in May. Palestinian militant outfit Hamas fired hundreds of rockets at Israel and more than 90% of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome systems, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed.

A Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) system, the Iron Dome comprises several launch units, each of which is loaded with about 20 interceptors. Highly automated, it also includes associated radars and a battle management and control unit.

Amid the heavy fighting, an estimated 4,300 rockets were launched towards Israel. The IDF responded with around 1500 airstrikes.

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However, the Iron Dome has its share of controversies as well. The interceptor system mistook an Israeli F-15 jet for a rocket fired by Gaza-based Hamas, The Times of Israel reported. The incident occurred during the May conflict, IDF acknowledged this on July 14. 

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An interceptor missile that was fired at a rocket launched by the Gaza Strip during the conflict in May mistakenly locked onto an Israeli F-15 jet, as reported by Channel 12 news.

An Israeli F-15. (via Twitter)

“This is a complex incident, in which the Air Force is required to intercept rockets and at the same time attack Gaza,” IDF said in a statement to Channel 12. “We are investigating the incident to make improvements, as well as continuing to carry out missions for the sake of the safety of those in Israel”.

The Iron Dome operators managed to detonate the interceptor and only a piece of shrapnel had hit the plane, the report added.

However, a report by another TV channel, Channel 13, contradicted this claim by saying that the interceptor was deliberately fired at the F-15 after it mistook the jet for a rocket fired by Hamas.

“It was a miracle that no one got hurt”, the second report said. According to both the TV reports, the Israel Air Force confirmed and acknowledged the incident and noted that it unfolded at the height of the conflict during heavy barrages of rockets fired at Israel from Gaza.

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Second Blunder

Earlier, Israeli media outlet Haaretz reported that an Israeli drone, most probably a Skylark, was accidentally shot down by the Iron Dome. During the recent conflict in Gaza Strip, Israeli authorities had left its airspace open to civil aviation on the premise that the Iron Dome is capable of distinguishing between hostile and friendly aircraft.

The Israeli Iron Dome intercepting Hamas rockets. (Image: IDF)

The extensive combat plans of the IDF have been based on multi-dimensional fighting and coordination between land, air, and sea forces. However, the Skylark incident has now put a question mark on Iron Dome’s ability to identify its targets without any error.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) confirmed that they had mistakenly shot down their own drone suspecting it to be a hostile aircraft. The incident raises serious questions about the ability of the Iron Dome air defense system to make error-free identification of friendly or hostile aerial objects/aircraft.

Written by Kashish Tandon