Will US army adopt Iron Dome interceptor?

Iron Dome

Raytheon's SkyHunter, a version of the Israeli Tamir missile, is competing in a US army tender.

SkyHunter, a version of the Tamir, the interceptor missile of the Iron Dome missile defense system, is one of three interceptors that will compete in a US army tender. Iron Dome was developed and is partly manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. with financial help from the US. Penetration of the US market by Iron Dome or one of its components is likely to give a push to efforts to market the system to other countries.

The US land forces' budget for the 2019 fiscal year states that the US army is interested in a new ground-to-air missile to counter the threat of short-range missiles, artillery shells, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). US army officers are planning to stage a competition between several missiles in order to select the most suitable product.

The first tests of Iron Dome in the US were conducted at the White Sands missile firing range in New Mexico in September 2017. Rafael combined with Raytheon to market the system or its components to the branches of the US armed forces. Iron Dome competed in the same series of tests against systems developed by US defense companies.

"Defense News" reports that US ground forces are now offering three contracts of $2.6 million each for adapting three interceptor missiles for a competition to test their ability to meet the requirements of the US army's master plan for dealing with attacks by rockets or other weapons. Raytheon is getting two contracts, one for SkyHunter and the other for a missile developed by the company in cooperation with US ground forces. Lockheed Martin is getting another contract for bringing a missile it calls Miniature Hit-to-Kill from the concept stage to the development stage.

The interceptor selected from among the three will join the Sidewinder AIM-9X missile, which has already been approved for the US ground forces' master plan.

Israel and the US have an agreement for joint development and production of Iron Dome components and the Tamir interceptor missile. Rafael and Raytheon are the two contractors for the project. 55% of the work is done in the US and the rest in Israel.

In April, dozens of members of the US House of Representatives called on the US army to procure Iron Dome systems from Israel. The call was issued in a letter initiated by Congresswoman Grace Meng (Democrat, New York) and Congressman Peter Roskam (Republican, Illinois) to the chairperson and ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. 40 members of the House of Representatives from both parties signed the letter.

In a press release, Roskam wrote, "US-Israel missile defense cooperation is a critical investment in the safety and security of Israel and stability in the Middle East. This cooperation improves Israel’s ability to defend its citizens and the US Army’s recent tests of Iron Dome is a clear indication that our own forces can benefit from this battle-proven technology."

The letter itself stated, "We also envision the possibility of utilizing US-Israeli missile defense systems beyond the Middle East. Today, our forces face challenges from an emboldened, aggressive, and increasingly militarized Russia, North Korea, and other adversaries heightening our immediate need for advanced missile defense systems to protect our forward-based forces and key fixed installations.

"One option we believe the Subcommittee should carefully study would be supporting the US Army’s immediate acquisition of the Iron Dome system. The Army has recently tested Iron Dome, for which the US has full data rights and a coproduction agreement. Adoption by the Army of Iron Dome could provide an important near-term capability to US forces as well as a surge production capacity if we or Israel required the system in a time of crisis."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 25, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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