On Wednesday, the United States Army confirmed that plans have been finalized to buy two of Israel’s Iron Dome weapons system batteries for $373 million.
The two batteries will include 12 launchers, two radars, two battlement management centers, and 240 interceptors, the Times of Israel reports.
In a statement, U.S. Army Col. Patrick Seiber said that the Army will determine if the system can be used to protect U.S. military service members.
"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," Seiber said, according to CNN. "While Iron Dome has been in operational use by the Israeli Air Force since 2011 and proven effective in combat, it should be noted that the U.S. Army will assess a variety of options for its long-term IFPC solution.”
"No decisions have been made regarding the fielding or experimentation of Iron Dome in specific theaters," Seiber added.
The U.S. Army reportedly plans to spend an additional $1.6 billion to integrate the Iron Dome system with the U.S. Army’s Sentinel radar and IBCS.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as the country’s defense minister, was enthusiastic about the deal, calling it a “great achievement.”
“This is a great achievement for Israel and yet another expression of the strengthening of our powerful alliance with the US and an expression of Israel’s rising status in the world,” Netanyahu said in a statement, reports the Times of Israel. “Israel has an Iron Dome and an iron fist. Our systems know how to deal with any threat, both in defense and in attack. I would not recommend our enemies to try us.”
The military has reportedly been exploring plans to acquire a system with interim cruise missile defense capability by 2020 and made the decision due to the Iron Dome being the only option that met the “immediate need.”
The U.S. heavily subsidized the development of the Iron Dome, providing more than $1.4 billion for batteries developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
“The United States government and taxpayer have supported the development and production of Iron Dome program for many years now and so, in that respect, this is not turning to a stranger but to a close partner,” Tom Karako, a missile defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. said.
I24 News reports that the military aid deal signed by the U.S. and Israel in 2016 provided Israel with $38 billion with $5 billion designated for developing missile defense systems.
Last month, The Daily Wire reported the Army’s intention to buy two Iron Dome batteries to protect U.S. military personnel from drones, mortars, rockets, artillery, and crude missiles.
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.”