US Army seeking Iron Dome air defense batteries from Israel

Reportedly, this would be the first time that Israel has sold an entire weapons system to the U.S.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

The US Army reportedly has asked Congress for some $373 million for the purchase of two Iron Dome batteries from Israel.

According to the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, if the deal goes through, it will be the first time Israel has ever sold an entire weapons system to the U.S. The batteries would be deployed with U.S. forces in sensitive parts of the world to help protect them from the threat of rocket attacks.

The army’s request suggests that the American military’s interest in the system is only beginning.

“The Army will acquire two Iron Dome batteries to provide ground forces an interim capability by 2020 against unmanned air vehicles, mortars, rockets, artillery and cruise missiles as well as explore full adoption of the Israeli-developed system for the Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2-Intercept program and incorporation with the Integrated Battle Command System by 2023,” according to Inside Defense, an American online news service for defense and aerospace professionals.

In June, the news service reported that the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee had approved legislation that would require the army to draft a plan to experiment with Iron Dome, shooting down rockets and low-flying threats, in a move that could set the stage for proponents of the system “to fight for a slice of future Pentagon spending” on air defense for U.S. ground forces.

The sale reportedly would include 12 launchers, two radar systems and battlefield management computers, and 240 missiles.

Iron Dome is a truck-towed mobile system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries.

Saudi Arabia reportedly has acquired the system.

It was initially deployed in March 2011 near Beersheva. Within a few weeks, the system successfully intercepted a BM-21 Grad rocket launched from the Gaza Strip.

In the summer of 2014, the system was employed during “Operation Protective Edge,” intercepting rockets launched from Gaza. During the 50 days of the conflict 4,594 rockets and mortars were reportedly fired at Israeli targets; Iron Dome systems intercepted 735 projectiles that it determined were threatening, achieving an intercept success rate of 90 percent.