​How Many Patriot Systems Israel Has and What Else Protects its Skies

Patriot anti-missile systems deployed in Israel / Illustrative photo credit: U.S. Army
Patriot anti-missile systems deployed in Israel / Illustrative photo credit: U.S. Army

The Israeli air defense system has distinct features that explain why Jerusalem needed assistance from allies during the iranian attack

After the aerial strike with drones and missiles launched by iran overnight April 14th, 2024, Israeli air defense has taken the spotlight, so after having discussed how this attack was repelled, we should also take a look at Israel's situation with air protection in general. It becomes especially interesting considering the massive aid provided to Jerusalem by its allies, incl. the USA, the UK, France, and Saudi Arabia.

That is to mention, Israel itself used a totality of air defense assets equivalent to over a billion US dollars of direct expenditure to repel iran's aerial strike. Moreover, according to US officials, up to 50% of iranian ballistic missiles failed mid-flight, so they posed no danger in the first place.

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Defense Express would usually refer to The Military Balance 2023 guidebook to assess the air defense units and equipment but that would be not very productive in this case: the only data it provides is about 40 launchers of the Iron Dome system.

A bit more insightful is the explainer by The Drive from October 2023, published during the initial stages of deployment of Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip and before the first strikes of Yemen's Houthis aimed at civilian shipment in the Red Sea. Note, the data about the assets in service with the air defense forces of Israel is all estimated, but nonetheless valuable.

To start with, the journalists highlight the cornerstone of the whole air defense structure in the Israel Defense Forces. As noted, IDF's doctrine is prepared to fight primarily against proxy forces like Hamas or Hezbollah, both having dozens of thousands of primitive rocket-propelled projectiles in their arsenal. With that in mind, Israel unfolded a so-called Integrated Air Defense System, multi-layered and built around its main echelon featuring the Iron Dome — 10 batteries in service.

At the same time, the IDF was aware of the possibility of a direct confrontation with iran, and the potential need to repel cruise and ballistic missiles targeting Israel. That's why the Israeli air defense has tools for engaging these types of targets, too.

First of all, eight fire units of the Patriot long-range anti-missile system, modification PAC-2 with GEM-T missiles, though the exact number of launchers is not specified. Given the standard composition of a Patriot battery, we can expect at least 32 launchers. The article mentions that the Patriots were modernized to the local version called Yahalom but the specifics of this enhancement are not detailed.

Complimenting the American air defense equipment is arguably the most potent anti-missile system in the world, the David Sling. Adopted by the Israeli military in 2017, with one interceptor missile priced at USD 1 million, the David Sling can engage non-ballistic targets within an estimated range of 300 km.

Also, there are Arrow 2 та Arrow 3 anti-missile systems, the letter can take down aerial targets at distances up to 1,500 km even in the upper layers of the atmosphere.

However, it seems that Israel still does not have enough anti-missile systems to defend itself with only its own means, as suggested by the fact four other countries had to step in and help in repelling iran's strike on the night of April 14th, 2024. Although, it's undeniable that this joint defensive operation was quite successful, with over 90% of incoming threats eliminated.

Read more: ​Which Weapons and How Took Down Iranian Shahed Drones Targeting Israel