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25 November 2012


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"Technically speaking, the Qassams are not spin-stabilized"
Technically speaking, fin stabilization is a viable method of stabilization as well and spin-stabilised rockets are rather rare even in sophisticated military forces.
Any inaccuracies are more likely about production tolerances, quality control and hasty fire control. A fin-stabilised shell of WW2 vintage had enough accuracy (dispersion in % of range) to hit a lone building reliably over the reported maximum range of a basic Qassam.

About the second-best weapon or munition; it's a general feature of warfare (especially since the 20th century) that warring parties strive to reduce the practical, active repertoire of their enemy. Only otherwise unconvincing parts of the repertoire are left to the opposition when Western forces are involved. This leads to a suppression of organised violence and effectively negates our ability to lure our opponents into going all in with a daring battle or campaign. It also contributes to the length of campaigns and the weird focus on very few issues of warfare (such as IEDs, covert insurgents, assassinations and harassing mortar fires).

Regarding the purely economist view, I'd like to note that the R&D and manufacturing costs were irrelevant costs once the conflict had begun; they were sunk costs already.
Prior to the war it wasn't their effectiveness when fired, but their very presence that yielded political value which cannot be calculated. Economists usually use the excuse that only god can value such things due to the role of impossible-to-measure preferences. We can only observe the outcome, and if in doubt we have to accept that democratically legitimated leaders appraised the political value of the hardware with their preferences and decided in their favour.
We can have a different opinion based on different preferences and information, but we cannot really prove them wrong with known (to me) economic theory.

Keep also in mind (concerning the political value) their rocket stocks are the only thing the Gazans have as deterrence against Israeli invasions/raids. This is also the reason why it's highly unlikely that they'll ever shoot with almost all of their rockets: The more they shoot, the less of an argument they have for a cease-fire.

Few remarks
1. Kassam rockets are not the real issue - they short range and locally made. The real issue and success is intercepting Grads in the 10-70KM range - they are Iranian, mil standard - much more deadly so the killed/wounded/damage is much greater then Kassam making Iron dome better investment
2. For a week life in southern Israel - 40 KM drom Gaza, came almost to a halt - no schools etc, at the same time from KM 41 to Tel Aviv life continue normally despite the Grads being fired and Tel Aviv and Jerusalem - just because the security provided by the Iron Dome - the savings in not losing GDP
are large.
3. Iron Dome enable Israel to end the fighting without going into Gaza. Estimated costs of 1 day land fighting in Gaza is estimated in 250 mil USD.

So overall, in a week, Iron dome paid for itself and more.

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James Hasik is a political economist. He serves as a senior research fellow at the Center for Government Contracting in the School of Business at George Mason University, and a non-resident senior fellow in the Defense Technology program at the Center for European Policy Analysis. Since September 2001, he has been studying global security challenges and the economic enterprises that provide the tools to address them.