Massive Soviet-era cargo plane lands at Ben Gurion Airport carrying military trucks to be fitted with Israel’s famous anti-missile defense system.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
A massive Soviet-era cargo plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport Monday, bringing a load of American military trucks that will be integrated into Israel’s famous Iron Dome anti-missile system being sold to the U.S. military.
The huge Antonov 225 Mriya jet attracted a crowd of photographers and airplane aficionados as it roared overhead on its way to touching down. On board were a load of military truck chassis manufactured by the Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Corporation,
“These trucks will be used by the Iron Dome systems purchased by the U.S. Army in the framework of the agreement signed between the two countries,” the Ministry of Defense said.
The systems will be used “to defend U.S. military troops against a wide range of ballistic and aerial threats,” the ministry added, without giving details on where the systems will be deployed.
The Oshkosh trucks will be fitted with the Iron Dome equipment that has proven itself as a highly-accurate defensive system for shooting down unguided rockets. First introduced in 2001, some 10 Iron Dome batteries are believed to be deployed around Israel where they have shot down an estimated 2,000 rockets fired by terrorists, mostly from Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Last year the U.S. Defense Department signed a contract to purchase two complete Iron Dome Systems, meant as an interim missile defense solution for the U.S., but Defense News reported that Iron Dome could turn into a permanent solution depending on its performance in the field for the Americans.
Deliveries of the two systems for the U.S. Army are expected to commence in December 2020 and February 2021.
Known by its nickname Mriya (dream), the AN-225 is the largest aircraft ever produced and has over 30 wheels, six jet engines and a wingspan of 290 feet compared to the widest Boeing 747 jumbo jet whose wingspan is 211 feet.
Although the exact payload was not disclosed, the Mryia is big enough that it could theoretically carry eight of the Oshkosh Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) trucks.