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Israel Just Used Its ‘C-Dome’ for the First Time. Here’s What to Know About the Defense System

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As a “hostile aircraft” reportedly entered Israeli airspace near the southern city of Eilat late Monday, sirens sounded to alert the Red Sea port city, and the Israeli military deployed a defense system called the C-Dome for the first time, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement published on Telegram early Tuesday.

“The target was successfully intercepted by the ‘C-Dome’ naval defense system,” the statement said, adding that “no injuries were reported and no damage was caused.”

Israel’s defense system is being tested by a surge in attacks since the outbreak of its military campaign in Gaza. In particular, Eilat has been the target of aerial attacks by militias in the region, including the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Just last week, a flying object that wasn’t intercepted by air defenses struck a building in the city, and an Iran-backed group in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.

Videos circulating on social media of Monday night’s use of the C-Dome captured flashes of light as projectiles were apparently intercepted mid-air over the sea.

What is the C-Dome and how does it work?

The C-Dome is the naval version of the Iron Dome, Israel’s rocket-defense system that has intercepted thousands of rockets fired from Gaza. The Iron Dome, which was activated in 2011 and has an effectiveness of about 90%, works by using radars to detect short-range rockets before destroying them with its own missiles. 

The C-Dome—which was first unveiled in 2014, declared operational in November 2022 and hailed at the time as a “significant milestone,” and now used for the first time this week—works similarly to the Iron Dome, using some of the same technology, except that it’s mounted on ships. 

Unlike the Iron Dome, which has its own dedicated radar, the C-Dome, according to its developer Rafael, a state-owned defense technology company, is integrated into the ship’s radar to detect incoming targets. C-Dome, Rafael says, ensures “full-circular vessel protection and high kill probability against a full spectrum of modern threats—maritime and coastal.”

Last June, Israeli authorities announced that they had completed a series of tests of the C-Dome aboard the Sa’ar 6-class corvette, a series of German-made warships for the Israeli Navy—described as a step in “achieving final operational capability” of the defense system. The Sa’ar 6-class corvette was used in combat for the first time last October, after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, and has continued to be deployed in Israel’s military campaign.

Other defense systems deployed for the first time during the ongoing conflict include the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3, missile interceptors that were used last year against targets launched towards Israel from the Gaza Strip and the Red Sea.

“The war in Gaza continues, and we are far from stopping,” IDF chief Herzi Halevi said in a statement on Sunday, as he marked six months since Oct. 7.

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