Complex software systems are developed to support mission critical systems including life support and missile defense systems. One system that has recently been in the spotlight is Israel's Iron Dome Missile Interception System, which is a computer-aided rocket system that intercepts incoming missiles and destroys them before they reach their intended target. The system is being credited with saving lives, property and, in many ways, overcoming terrorism itself.
The Iron Dome has three components: the detection and radar installation, battle management and weapons control, and the missile firing unit itself. This means that these three components must be configured to work together between the hardware and software components. This task can be very complex and virtually impossible to achieve without a mature development process with many of the practices associated with application lifecycle management (ALM).
There are three companies collaborating—and integrating their technologies—to create the Iron Dome. The first is Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, an Israeli government-owned company which also makes the Tamir interceptor missiles and acts as the general contractor. Rafael documents their own use of a variety of software standards including ISO 9001:2008. The second partner, Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, created the radar. MPrest, the third partner, makes the command-and-control system that maintains a high level of interoperability.
This writer recently traveled to Tel Aviv and had an opportunity to speak with many people impacted by the Iron Dome including other technology professionals who work on similar complex mission-critical systems within the Israeli Military.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishments with regards to Iron Dome are the Israeli citizens who not only have come to rely on technology for their own safety but also have managed to overcome terrorism with courage and determination—and a little help from ALM.
The image above was taken by the Israel Defense Force and is released under a Creative Commons license by the Israeli Defence Forces Spokesperson's Unit.
Bob Aiello is a consultant, a technical editor for CM Crossroads, and the author of Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World. Bob has served as the vice chair of the IEEE 828 Standards working group and is a member of the IEEE Software and Systems Engineering Standards Committee (S2ESC) management board.