Developed by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems incorporating Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) radar, the IRON DOME air defence system first achieved public notoriety in 2012, when it shot down hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza into Israeli territory over an eight day period. Now, the C2 ‘brain’ at the heart of the system is finding much wider application across the globe, from air defence to managing essential utilities for smart cities.
The technology powering the C2 system was developed by private Israeli company Mprest. In November, the UK Ministry of Defence confirmed it was funding a new integrated air defence system for the Falkland Islands, to be known as SKY SABRE, which will employ the Mprest software to detect, track and intercept potential incoming rockets and missiles. The £78 million (€88 million) programme is part of a wider £280 million (€€316 million) investment in defence of the islands announced in 2015 and comes in the wake of Argentina procuring additional SUPER ETENDARD aircraft from France.
The principal advantage of the Mprest software lies in its ability to link multiple objects and ‘crunch’ vast amounts of data quickly and efficiently, which enables C2 systems to track and counter threats in near real time. In the SKY SABRE context, the C2 system will use Saab GIRAFFE mobile radars to identify and locate incoming objects, then control and vector members of the MBDA Common Ant-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) family on to intercept missions.
Mprest is a company worth keeping a watchful eye on. Its highly capable software is already being used to manage power plants, electricity grids and other utilities for customers in locations as diverse as New Zealand and New York. There is, perhaps, no better recent example of the benefits of defence-centric R&D giving birth to capabilities that are useful and enabling in the wider civil market. Nor is there starker proof of the fact that the future is software shaped.