The US army has decided to procure an unspecified number of Israel’s Iron Dome short range missile defense systems from its developer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. for immediate needs, Israel’s Ministry of Defense has announced. The system is meant to protect soldiers from indirect-fire battlefield threats by intercepting and destroying incoming missiles, rockets and other artillery. Developed by Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, the system has been a part of the Israeli Air Force strategy of urban protection since 2011. The transportable system, which takes hours to install, uses radar to identify an incoming target, and fires a missile to neutralize it.
Acting Defense Minister and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “This is a great achievement for Israel and another manifestation of the deepening of our steadfast alliance with the US, and an expression of Israel’s rising status in the world.” “The Iron Dome will be assessed and experimented as a system that is currently available to protect deployed U.S. military service members against a wide variety of indirect fire threats and aerial threats,” U.S. Army spokesman Col. Patrick Seibert said in a statement. He added that “no decisions have been made regarding the fielding or experimentation of Iron Dome in specific theaters,” and that the purchase is meant to “fill a short-term need for an interim indirect fire protection capability.”
Israel’s Ministry of Defense said that Iron Dome will undergo trials for deployment as a system for defending US forces overseas from a wide range of ballistic and airborne threats and in the long-term it will be tested for wider use. This is the first-ever export deal for Iron Dome agreed by Israel. Singapore considered purchasing the system in 2010, and in 2016 Yavar Jamalov, Azerbaijan’s defense minister, said his country would purchase it. The system was initial developed by Israel’s defense technology company Rafael, but the system has since been heavily sponsored by the United States. To date, Iron Dome has intercepted over 2,000 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza.