U.S. renounces to buy Israeli Iron Dome air defense system

U.S. plans to purchase more Iron Dome missile defense batteries have been canceled because of difficulties integrating them into the U.S. Army’s existing air defense systems, Marcy Oster reports.

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Missile launcher module of Rafael's Iron Dome air defense system (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The Pentagon is canceling plans to purchase more Iron Dome missile defense batteries from an Israeli defense firm because of difficulties integrating them into the Army’s existing air defense systems. At issue is Israel’s refusal to provide the US military with certain data, including Iron Dome’s source code, which details how the system works and could aid in integration, an Israel media outlet reported.

Iron Dome is a mobile all-weather air defense system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. The system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) to 70 kilometers (43 mi) away and whose trajectory would take them to an Israeli populated area. Israel hopes to increase the range of Iron Dome's interceptions, from the current maximum of 70 kilometers (43 mi) to 250 kilometers (160 mi) and make it more versatile so that it could intercept rockets coming from two directions simultaneously.

Iron Dome was declared operational and initially deployed on 27 March 2011 near Beersheba. On 7 April 2011, the system successfully intercepted a BM-21 Grad launched from Gaza for the first time. On 10 March 2012, The Jerusalem Post reported that the system shot down 90% of rockets launched from Gaza that would have landed in populated areas. By November 2012, official statements indicated that it had intercepted over 400 rockets. By late October 2014, the Iron Dome systems had intercepted over 1,200 rockets.

In addition to their land-based deployment, Iron Dome batteries will in the future be deployed at sea, where they will protect off-shore gas platforms in conjunction with Israel's Barak 8 missile system.

Iron Dome is part of a future multi-tiered missile defense system that Israel is developing, which includes Arrow 2, Arrow 3, Iron Beam, Barak 8 and David's Sling.