Operation Iron Island is in full gear, testing part of a system intended to help defend the island and the Indo-Pacific region. Guam was selected for deployment of the Iron Dome as part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which required the Army to deploy it to an operational theater by the end of 2022. Guam was selected based on its location in the Indo-Pacific. This is the first time the Department of Defense has deployed the Iron Dome outside of the continental U.S. It arrived on island in mid-October. At this time there is no plan to deploy the system permanently, unlike the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which has been on island since 2015 because of its anti-ballistic missile capabilities.
The U.S. Army took receipt of the first Iron Dome battery in Israel in October 2022. The Fort Bliss-based units are expected to receive one Iron Dome system in December followed by the second in January 2021. To stand up the two batteries, the U.S. Army is converting a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery and realigning resources from the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery School. Iron Dome has a long track record of operational success in Israel and is produced through a partnership with Israeli-based Rafael and Raytheon. Those companies are making plans to produce Iron Dome systems in the United States.
As threats have changed, THAAD has been able to maintain it capabilities, and as we look forward into the future U.S. Army are modernizing the ground-based air defense systems. Not just THAAD, but as a whole, to be able to account for changes. The intent of the Iron Dome’s deployment is to fulfill the requirements of the 2019 NDAA and gather deployment and sustainability information for future exercises and operations. There some of the integration between the Iron Dome and THAAD systems. One of key requirements is to make sure U.S. systems are interoperable – so, make sure they communicate with each other. It’s one of the things that makes the ground-based air-defense systems a strong force.
Iron Dome (Kippat Barzel) is a mobile all-weather air defense system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. The system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to 70 kilometres (43 mi) away and whose trajectory would take them to an Israeli populated area. Iron Dome is part of a multi-tiered missile defense system that Israel was continuing to develop in 2016 to protect the country from threats ranging from mortars to ICBMs and which includes Arrow 2, Arrow 3, Iron Beam, Barak 8 and David’s Sling.