A Sa’ar 6 launching a C-Dome interceptor during a drill. (Israel Ministry of Defense)

JERUSALEM — Israel’s C-Dome, the naval version of Iron Dome, downed a unmanned aerial vehicle over the Red Sea in what the Israel Defense Forces said was the first operational interception by the air defense system.

The interception was carried out Monday from a Sa’ar 6 class corvette, one of four modern Sa’ar 6 corvettes, which began arriving in Israel in December 2020 and were then fitted out with the C-Dome and other defense systems.

Israel’s Sa’ar 6s have seen extensive operations during the war in Gaza in the wake of the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. They were deployed off the coast of Gaza and sent to the Red Sea off the coast of the southern port city of Eilat, which had been threatened by drone and missile attacks from the Houthi rebel group in Yemen. In recent weeks Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have also threatened Eilat with kamikaze drones, according to reports.

The incident involving C-Dome began on Monday evening when sirens sounded in Eilat and an industrial area north of the city at 11:32 pm local. “IDF Naval forces identified a suspicious aerial target crossing into Israeli territory. The target was successfully intercepted by the ‘C-Dome’ naval defense system,” Israeli Defense Forces said. “The target was tracked by the IDF, no injuries were reported and no damage was caused.”

Later the IDF noted that this was the first operational interception by C-Dome and that it had downed a UAV that “approached from the east and had crossed into the area of the Gulf of Eilat.” The IDF did not say from where the drone was launched.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which makes the C-Dome and Iron Dome, said in a statement to Breaking Defense, “We are incredibly proud of this landmark achievement for the C-Dome in its 1st operational, combat interception, neutralizing a UAV at sea.”

Israel Aerospace Industries, whose subsidiary Elta makes the radar used by the C-Dome system as well as Israel’s land-based air defense systems, also heralded the success of the system using its MF-STAR radar. The system “located and classified the aerial threat, and directed the interceptor to enable a successful hit.”

Threats to Eilat have led to a number of new operational achievements for Israel, as well as concerns about the increasing drone threats to the city. A UAV struck a hangar at an IDF base in Eilat in the early hours of April 1, and another drone launched from Syria targeted the city in November 2023. Israel used F-35s to shoot down a cruise missile threat for the first time in November. The Arrow 3 air defense system also notched its first operation intercept over the Red Sea in the same month.