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Israel delivers first Iron Dome battery for US Army

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A year after Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the US Army signed a deal for two Iron Dome missile defense batteries, the first battery has been delivered.A symbolic event was held the Iron Dome production line of defense contractor, Rafael Advanced System in the presence of Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, Minister of Economy, Amir Peretz, Head of the DDR&D, Dr. Dani Gold, Head of the IMDO, Moshe Patel Rafael Chairman, Uzi Landau, and Rafael CEO, Yoav Har-Even. In August 2019 the US Army purchased two batteries off-the-shelf from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems which included 12 launchers, two sensors, two battlement management centers and 240 interceptors.The Defense Ministry said that the second battery is expected to be delivered in the “near future” within the framework of the agreement. The purchase was made to fill its short-term needs for an Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IPC) until a permanent solution to the problem is put in place to best protect ground maneuvering troops against an increasingly wide range of aerial threats, including short-range projectiles.The prime contractor for the development and production of the Iron Dome is Rafael Advanced Systems. The MMR radar is developed by ELTA, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and the command and control system (BMC), is developed by mPrest.The fully mobile system carries 10 kg. of explosives and can intercept an incoming projectile from four to 70 km. away. It is able to calculate when rockets will land in open areas, choosing not to intercept them, or towards civilian centers.While the United States has its THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to intercept and destroy short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase, the American military does not have any short-range air defense solutions.Praising the system that is part of Israel’s multi-layered missile defense system which also includes the David’s Sling, Arrow-2, and Arrow-3 weapons systems, Gantz said that it has “a significant impact on the battlefield” and reflects the “strength” of Israel’s defense establishment with some 2400 successful interceptions since 2011.“I am proud that this advanced system will also protect US Army troops. This is an extraordinary achievement for both the Ministry of Defense and for Israel’s excellent defense industries.” Remarking on his visit to Washington last week where he met with senior US defense and military officials, he said that “procurement and information sharing in the field of technology” was also discussed.“The completion of this agreement serves as further proof that the defense alliance [between the U.S. and Israel], is based on common values and interests, which are stronger than ever,” Gantz said.According to Yungman, a series of tests and demonstrations at the White Sands testing field have been carried out the Iron Dome system “tailored according to US requirements”  that intercepted targets chosen by the US Army.The Army earmarked over $1 billion for the project to take components of the system to integrate them with the US military’s Integrated Battle Command System. A 2023 deadline was imposed by Congress on the US military to develop its own system or by law will need to purchase additional Iron Dome systems from Israel.In August the world’s largest cargo plane, an Antonov AN-225 landed at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport carrying US military Oshkosh trucks to be fitted with Iron Dome launchers purchased by the US Army.   While the Israeli officials praised the delivery of the first battery as being on schedule, in March Gen. Mike Murray, head of Army Futures Command told the House Armed Service tactical air and land forces subcommittee that “it took us longer to acquire those [first] two batteries than we would have liked.”According to Murray, the service identified several problems- including cyber vulnerabilities and operational challenges — during efforts last year to integrate elements of Iron Dome with the US Army’s Integrated Battle Command System.“We believe we cannot integrate them into our air defense system based upon some interoperability challenges, some cyber [security] challenges, and some other challenges. So what we ended up having is two stand-alone batteries that will be very capable, but they cannot be integrated,” he was quoted by the Breaking Defense news site as telling legislators.



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