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Weapons

US Army buying two Iron Dome batteries, operational theatre not identified

06 February 2019
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An Israeli Iron Dome Tamir missile shown launching from the US Army's new air-defence platform, the IFPC 2-Intercept multimission launcher. Source: US Army/John A Hamilton

The US Army is planning to buy two Israeli-built Iron Dome batteries to down potential short-range rockets and artillery, but says it has not decided where to field the systems.

Army Futures Command Communications Director Colonel Patrick Seiber announced on 6 February that the service would buy two of Rafael's Iron Dome batteries to fill a "short-term need" for an interim Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC).

"Protection of our soldiers is paramount, they deserve the tools needed to fight, win, and return home safely," Col Seiber told Jane's . "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."

First fielded in 2011, Iron Dome is a mobile short-range air-defence system designed to down weapons launched between 4 km and 70 km away.

In response to a mandate in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, Col Seiber confirmed that the service sent a report to Congress in October 2018 detailing plans to buy the Iron Dome batteries to fill an interim cruise missile defence capability.

"The army assessed several other systems as well, and determined that, based on cost, schedule, and performance, the Iron Dome system, which includes the Tamir missile, provides the best value for meeting the congressionally directed interim cruise missile defence requirement," Col Seiber added.

To date, however, the army has not decided on when and where to field Iron Dome so soldiers can further assess the system, he added.

As for costs, the service did not disclose how much it would shell out for this buy, but noted that it is planning to spend USD1.6 billion through 2024 to field an "enduring capability", which may componentise portions of the Iron Dome system.

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