The Iron Dome system intercepted an IDF unmanned aircraft during the round of fighting in the Gaza Strip after identifying it as hostile, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.
It should be noted that during Operation Guardians of the Walls, Iron Dome performed for the first time operational interceptions of unmanned aircraft flying in from the Gaza Strip. The Air Force saw this as a significant achievement that fit in with the multi-dimensional combat program developed by the IDF in recent years, with air, sea, and land forces work together in coordination. But the discovery of one part of the system became confused and fired on a friendly component is a reason for concern.
The IDF spokesman issued a response, saying: “During the round of fighting in Gaza and as part of the defense of the country’s skies, an IDF ‘Sky Rider’ drone was hit by the Iron Dome. The incident is being investigated.”
The preliminary investigation of the incident, according to Kan 11 News, pointed to human error. Despite the ability of the air defense system to make a real-time distinction between IDF aircraft and hostile aircraft, the operators of the Iron Dome Battery in question decided to intercept the Sky Rider with a Tamir missile which had been identified as a hostile craft.
The preliminary investigation also concluded that the Iron Dome battery was operating in keeping with protocols and the unusual incident took place due to a lack of coordination between the UAV operator, who was situated at a dedicated unit of the Artillery Corps, and the Air Force, which runs the Iron Dome batteries.
“Once the UAV operator failed to coordinate his operation and its location, and did not answer an inquiry, it became inevitable that the aircraft that was approaching Israeli territory from Gaza, would be shot down,” a source familiar with the details told Kan 11 News.
Israel may be facing additional problems on top of the humiliation of losing an aircraft to its own air defense system, according to Haaretz. The international Air Traffic Control system (ATC) authorized Israel to keep its airspace open to civil aviation during the fighting because of the considerable capabilities of the Iron Dome. ATC representatives arrived in Israel and were shown the system’s ability to manage the airspace under missile launches and extensive Air Force activity in the country’s skies. Israel was granted the approval because Iron Dome displayed in real-time an outstanding ability to distinguish between a hostile aircraft and a non-threatening aircraft.
This means that the IDF investigation will be very thorough and professional and that a Sky Rider video operator from the Armored Corps is probably getting latrine duty.