A landmark deal for US procurement of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-air missile defense systems was finalized this week. It became official when on Tuesday the US Defense Department announced it had formally signed a contract for two complete Iron Dome systems.
Co-developed by Raytheon and Israeli defense firm Rafael, the system has been touted by Israeli leaders as the most advanced short to mid-range interceptor in the world with a proven track record, given that even within the past year it’s been engaged in dozens if not hundreds of Hamas rocket intercepts from Gaza.
“Now that the contract is set in stone, the Army will be able to figure out delivery schedules and details in terms of taking receipt of the systems,” a US missile systems analyst told Defense News of the future transfer.
From a US perspective the Iron Dome represents an “interim” solution to close some existing gaps in the Army’s anti-air capabilities, as well as experiment with integration with other systems, according to Defense News:
The Army was shifting around its pots of funding within its Indirect Fires Protection Capability (IFPC) program — under development to defend against rockets, artillery and mortars as well as unmanned aircraft and cruise missiles — to fill its urgent capability gap for cruise missile defense on an interim basis. Congress mandated the Army deploy two batteries by fiscal 2020 in the service’s fiscal 2019 budget.
The US Army had announced last February when the impending deal was first revealed: “While Iron Dome has been in operational use by the Israeli Air Force since 2011 and proven effective in combat, it should be noted that the U.S. Army will assess a variety of options for its long-term IFPC solution,” according to the report.
This week’s announcement marks the first time Israel has ever sold a stand alone weapons system to the United States.
Tel Aviv has recently cited the Iron Dome achieving an 86% shootdown rate when in May about 700 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip over a period of a few days in the most recent major flare-up of hostilities.
Also, last month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the successful test firing of Israel’s Arrow-3 ballistic missile shield over Alaska, tests previously considered secretive. Specifically the Arrow-3 is designed to take out advanced ballistic missiles in Iran and Syria’s arsenal, and is designed as the ‘top level’ of which the Iron Dome forms the base platform in the overall three-tiered system.
The Arrow-3, once fully integrated with the Iron Dome and the medium-range ‘David’s Sling,’ will mark the longest range capability in Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense network.