US to extensively supply Israel with Iron Dome ammunition by 2025

The United States plans to establish a new production line for Iron Dome missiles in collaboration with Israeli company Rafael and American defense contractor Raytheon. This comes with plans to deliver additional Iron Dome systems to Israel, further strengthening the country's air defense capabilities.
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 United States plans to establish a new production line for Iron Dome missiles in collaboration with Israeli company Rafael and American defense contractor Raytheon. (Picture source: Raytheon)

In a significant move to strengthen American and Israeli defense capabilities, the United States will establish a new production line for Iron Dome missiles. Israeli company Rafael, in partnership with US defense giant Raytheon, will oversee this venture. The production line will focus on the American variant of the TAMIR missiles, marketed under the name "SkyHunter".

A budget of $33 million was allocated to establish this facility in East Camden, Arkansas. Construction is expected to begin in 2024, with the first interceptors planned to roll off the assembly line in 2025.

This development was spurred by the United States Marine Corps' announcement to acquire 2,000 SkyHunter missiles. Although Israel is not explicitly mentioned as a direct customer, the facility will supply missiles to the US military and its allies, potentially increasing the rate of supply to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The United States Department of Defense recently revealed plans to transfer additional Iron Dome systems to Israel. Two Iron Dome batteries, accompanied by 300 Tamir interceptor missiles, are being prepared for this transfer. Logistics and estimated time of arrival have not been disclosed. We refer you to the article published by our editorial team dated October 26, 2023.

The Iron Dome is a modern anti-aircraft defense system co-developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Israel and the U.S. company RTX, formerly known as Raytheon. First operationalized in 2011, the system's primary function is to defend against short-range rockets and mortar rounds, often originating from areas like the Gaza Strip and Southern Lebanon.

The system's architecture includes several key components that work together to identify, track, and neutralize aerial threats. Equipped with a sophisticated radar, the Iron Dome scans the sky for incoming projectiles. When a potential threat is detected, the data is sent to a command center where specialized algorithms analyze the object's trajectory. If the object is determined to pose a risk to populated areas or crucial infrastructure, an order to intercept is given.

Central to the Iron Dome's operations are its Tamir missile launchers, designed for quick and accurate interceptions, frequently within just a few kilometers of the target. These missiles are equipped with advanced guidance systems and are highly maneuverable, allowing for a high rate of successful interceptions, even at low altitudes. A typical Iron Dome battery usually consists of three launchers, each holding up to 20 Tamir missiles.

One notable feature of the Iron Dome is its capacity for real-time calculations to assess whether an incoming projectile will land in an uninhabited area. In such cases, the system may decide not to intercept, thereby conserving resources. This feature is particularly relevant given the financial considerations involved in each interception, which can be quite costly.

The creation of a new production line in the USA therefore aims in particular to strengthen Israel's air defense capabilities, following the large-scale rocket and drone attacks initiated by Hamas on October 7. The Iron Dome system, first operational in 2011, has been critical in protecting Israel from short-range rocket fire and has successfully executed more than 5,000 interceptions to date.

Raytheon and Rafael expect a large order from the Defense Ministry to replenish Israel's interceptor inventory, following an increase in interceptions conducted by Iron Dome since October 7. Raytheon CEO Gregory J. Hayes said the company is ready to receive a share of the $106 billion budget President Joe Biden has requested from Congress for aid to Ukraine and special assistance to Israel following the conflict. Israel's allocation in this budget is $14.3 billion, of which approximately $10 billion is for security assistance.