The U.S. Army, looking for a missile defense system to protect its ground forces from the possibility of an attack from drones, mortars, rockets, artillery and cruise missiles by 2020, has decided to purchase two Iron Dome batteries from Israel.
According to the American defense website Inside Defense, the Iron Dome system, which was used by Israel in November 2012 when Hamas fired roughly 400 rockets from Gaza at Israel, and which the Pentagon stated intercepted 85% of the rockets, will effectively replace the AIM-9X II guided missile. As I24 reports, “The Iron Dome, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is a short-range missile interceptor and the first layer of Israel’s three-tier missile defense array which also includes the medium-range David’s Sling interceptor and the longer-range Arrow missile defense system.”
Army acquisition executive Bruce Jette notified Congress last October of the Army’s decision in a 14-page report, which states, "Based on an analysis of cost, schedule and performance, the Army [has decided to]: field two interim IFPC batteries of Iron Dome in [fiscal year] 2020, while concurrently componentizing a launcher and interceptor solution that are interoperable and integrated with the Army IBCS by FY-23.”
The Iron Dome systems are produced by Rafael in conjunction with the American company Raytheon. The two companies have joined efforts to develop David's Sling.
The acquisition of the Iron Dome systems will include 12 launchers, two sensors, two battlement management centers and 240 interceptors.
Inside Defense notes, “The Army then proposes spending $1.6 billion through 2024 to ‘componentize’ the Iron Dome launcher, missiles for IFPC Inc. 2 and integrate the system with Army Sentinel radars and IBCS. IBCS is a major acquisition effort to develop a common integrated-fire control element for air and missile defense, providing functional capabilities to control and manage linked radars and interceptors.”
Raytheon notes of the Iron Dome system that it has intercepted “more than 1,500 targets with a greater than 90 percent success rate since being fielded in 2011. The system is effective day or night and in all weather conditions, including low clouds, rain, dust storms and fog. It features a first-of-its-kind multi-mission launcher, which is designed to fire a variety of interceptor missiles, depending on the threat … Each of the Iron Dome batteries can defend up to nearly 60 square miles.”
According to Inside Defense, Iron Dome has a range of up to roughly 43 miles and can intercept missiles launched from as close as six miles away.
In early 2018, the Army ramped up its efforts to mount an IFPC capacity; the 2018 National Defense Strategy warned of Russian and Chinese threats. That triggered legislators to urge the Army to implement an interim cruise missile defense system by September 2020.
The October report stated:
The Iron Dome system has capability against cruise missiles, unmanned aircraft systems and rocket, artillery and mortar fire. Additionally, the Army assessed the key benefits of the Iron Dome system as its magazine depth of 20 interceptors per launcher and the proven capabilities of the Tamir Missile. The fielded interceptor is battle tested and Israeli Qualified. Based on recent simulation and limited demonstration results, the Army concluded the Iron Dome system supports the interim capability requirements …
The Army plans to experiment with Army sensors and IBCS to determine the complexity of integration of the componentized launcher and the interceptor solution prior to making a final decision on the enduring solution. The Iron Dome system provides the best value to the Army based on its schedule, cost per kill, magazine depth, and capability against specified threats.