MANCHESTER, NH — After spouting his usual tropes about wanting to build a border wall and “baby drill, drill” for oil, former President Donald Trump added a new refrain to his remarks — a promise to build something like Israel’s Iron and Steel. Dome, but better and all over the United States
“We’re going to build an Iron Dome over our country, a state-of-the-art missile defense shield, and it’s all made in the United States,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire on Sunday. “I think it’s time for one of us.”
“I will prevent World War III.” We’ve never been so close. You just have to watch the news. And we will build an Iron Dome – a state-of-the-art missile defense shield – over our country,” he said here on Saturday.
“It’s a huge thing for me,” he said of the idea in Iowa last month. “We give billions of dollars to other countries so that they can build domes. But we don’t have a dome. We’re going to have the biggest dome ever.”
It is known as Israel’s missile defense system Iron dome Almost every night during the war with Hamas, Hamas proved its capabilities by firing volleys of rockets.
The appeal of a similar missile shield to the US is clear, especially for a presidential candidate bent on massive defense infrastructure projects like his signature border wall along the US-Mexico border. And it fits Trump’s message that the world is a dangerous place full of dangerous enemies who seek to harm Americans, and that only he is willing to do whatever it takes to protect them.
However, the US military has already spent hundreds of billions of dollars and decades of research developing missile defenses with only limited results, and certainly nothing approaching the impenetrable “giant dome” over the entire country that Trump has promised.
“We see a lot of positive news about missile defense. He is doing a really good job protecting civilians in Ukraine and Israel right now.” John Erath, a former National Security Council official, is the senior policy director of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, a nonpartisan nonprofit group. “But what’s happening there is very different from what’s being worked on and planned and could happen at some point in defense of the U.S. homeland. It’s apples and oranges.”
Since the 1980s, the US military has tested countless ways to launch missiles. space-based weapons for robot Gatling guns for jumbo jets with laser beam emitters installed on them. The US has also built massive radar systems in remote parts of the Arctic to detect and track incoming missiles for possible interception. And some of the strongest in the world supercomputers and the smartest scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology made calculations.
After all, the United States and other military powers, such as Israel, have a good record of intercepting short-range missiles at close range, but they have minimal ability to stop the longer-range threats the United States faces.
Israel’s Iron Dome is designed to intercept projectiles fired from a distance of 43 miles. 2023 Congressional Research Service report. Each battery was designed to defend a maximum area of about 60 square miles, slightly less than the size of Washington, D.C
This is perfect for Israel, a small country that worries about rockets fired from the nearby Gaza Strip or the West Bank.
But for the US homeland, Iron Dome would solve a problem America doesn’t have, because it doesn’t generally have to worry about lobbying for missiles in border towns in Mexico or Canada.
The US military has its own short-range missile defense systems, such as Iron Dome, and it even bought a few Iron Dome batteries to test them, but they are used for what it calls “point defense” – defending specific locations, such as the US military overseas. bases and naval vessels.
The continental US is 450 times the size of Israel, and it is threatened not by neighbors but by intercontinental ballistic missiles from places like Russia or China. These are a completely different type of threat that Iron Dome is not designed for.
“Those rockets go through the North Pole and then go up into space before re-entering the atmosphere on the way to their destination,” Erath said. “While Hamas missiles can travel at several hundred miles per hour, intercontinental ballistic missiles re-enter from space at thousands of miles per hour.”
At these velocities and trajectories, they are much more difficult to hit reliably.
“We have invested billions in missile defense systems and have limited capabilities against very limited missile threats against the US homeland,” Erath said. “If it’s accidentally triggered or a rogue actor scores a goal or two, yes, we can protect against that. But if you’re talking about a massive attack from a country on the scale of Russia or China, the math just doesn’t work.”
With current technologies, defenders are at a major disadvantage, Erath said, because it generally requires at least three interceptors to be deployed to reliably shoot down an incoming missile, as each has a relatively low chance of success. But interceptors are more expensive than the missiles they’re trying to shoot, because they require more advanced guidance systems, and you need more of them.
“So you need a lot of them, and they’re expensive, and the antidote to that is very simple, which is: You just throw more stuff at us and overwhelm the defense,” Erath said.
Military officials have been transparent about this, especially as the U.S. struggles to send more Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, anti-aircraft batteries to Ukraine, each of which is very expensive.
“Simply put: We can’t defend everything,” Army Reserve Lt. Gen. AC Roper, North American Aerospace Defense Command’s deputy commander for U.S. aerospace defense, told a think tank audience last summer. According to Inside Defense. “It is both impossible and unaffordable to place a Patriot or THAAD battery on every street corner.”