Army to Buy Israeli-Made Iron Dome to Protect Soldiers from Indirect Fire

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An Iron Dome launcher deployed next to Sderot, Israel, in June 2011.Natan Flayer via Wikipedia
An Iron Dome launcher deployed next to Sderot, Israel, in June 2011.Natan Flayer via Wikipedia

The U.S. Army will buy the Israeli-made Iron Dome air-defense system to protect soldiers from indirect-fire threats on the battlefield.

"The U.S. Army has announced its intent to procure a limited number of Iron Dome weapon systems to fill its short-term need for an interim Indirect Fire Protection Capability," Col. Patrick Seiber, spokesman for Army Futures Command, said Wednesday in a press release.

The Iron Dome Weapon System was developed by the Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to detect, assess and intercept incoming rockets, artillery and mortars. Rafael has teamed with Raytheon to produce Iron Dome's Tamir interceptor missiles to engage incoming threats launched from up to 40 miles away.

"It's the world's most used missile defense system, intercepting more than 1,500 targets with a greater than 90 percent success rate since being fielded in 2011," according to Raytheon's website.

Air and missile defense is one of the Army's top modernization priorities in an effort to replace its Big Five weapons platforms -- which include the Patriot air defense system -- by 2028.

"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 in the statement.

The Army statement did not provide details about how much it will pay for the Iron Dome systems.

Seiber told Military.com that the Army is proposing spending $1.6 billion through 2024 to field an enduring capability that may "componentize" portions of the Iron Dome system.

Inside Defense reported in early January that the Army will buy two Iron Dome batteries to provide ground forces an interim capability by 2020.

Seiber confirmed the two-battery buy for an "interim cruise missile defense capability as mandated in the FY19 DoD Appropriations Act."

"Protection of our soldiers is paramount; they deserve the tools needed to fight, win and return home safely," Seiber told Military.com. "Iron Dome is a combat-proven system that could be used to help protect our forces from a variety of indirect-fire and aerial threats."

The statement stressed that the Army has not decided on a long-term interim Indirect Fire Protection Capability.

"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," Seiber said in the statement.

The Army is also planning on fielding the first Northrop Grumman-made Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, or IBCS, sometime in December, Bruce Jette, the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology, said recently.

"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," Seiber said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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