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Congress poised to remove US Army mandate for additional Iron Dome buy

US lawmakers want to scrap previous legislation mandating that the US Army buy two additional Iron Dome batteries for an ‘interim cruise missile defence capability'.

House and Senate lawmakers have hashed out the terms of a compromise deal for the fiscal year (FY) 2022 defence authorisation bill, and House lawmakers have approved the measure and the Senate chamber is poised to approve the deal before sending it to the White House.

Included in the bill is a Senate-crafted amendment repealing a provision in the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act mandating that the army purchases two additional Iron Dome batteries. To date, the service has purchased two Iron Dome batteries at Congress' behest, but has lobbied against buying the additional two citing concerns about ‘integrating' the weapon into its larger air defence architecture.

Additionally, the service recently selected Dynetics' new ‘Enduring Shield' launcher, paired with Raytheon's ground-launched AIM-9X Sidewinder missile, for its Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 (IFPC Inc 2) programme over Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' combat-proven Iron Dome.

“The process evaluated industry-proposed solutions of a launcher, an interceptor, and an all-up-round magazine, which would then integrate with the US Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) … as the fire-control component, [and] the Sentinel radar is the US sensor,” Program Executive Officer for Missiles and Space Major General Robert Rasch told reporters in September. “The technical evaluations conducted by the team assessed the benefits, shortcomings, and risks of each proposal against the IFPC Inc 2 requirements.”

More specifically, the source selection committee weighed the two proposals based on three criteria in descending order of importance – current and future capability, schedule to include technical maturity, and price.

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