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Congress considering mandating additional US Army Iron Dome buy

US lawmakers have voiced their concerns that the US Army is taking a risk by not rapidly fielding Iron Dome in places like Iraq to protect soldiers from incoming cruise missiles. House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith said his panel could once again mandate that the service purchase additional batteries of the weapon from Israel despite service opposition.

Over the past year, Congress and the army have gone back and forth over fielding a cruise missile defence capability. Lawmakers went so far as to include provisions in previous pieces of legislation mandating that the service deploy four batteries – two this year and then another two in 2023 – unless the service has another capability ready. Army officials were also tasked with ‘integrating’ them into the service’s air-defence architecture.

To date the service has only purchased the first two batteries but they will not be ready for fielding until 2021. However, it has said it will forgo purchasing the additional two batteries in favour of building an ‘enduring’ Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 (IFPC Inc 2) capability by fiscal year (FY) 2023.

Smith, however, said lawmakers could again intervene when they craft the FY 2021 defence authorisation bill and mandate an additional Iron Dome purchase.

“It’s not guaranteed, but yes, I am expecting that,” he said during a 29 April call.

“There is concern,” he added separately. “The shifting situation in Iraq with our troops there, the vulnerability is to short-range missile attacks. … I think there is widespread agreement that we need more systems to better protect our personnel in that region as long as they’re there.”

A Tamir missile being fired from an Iron Dome launcher during the recent tests. The US Army has said that it has various concerns with fielding the system or parts of the system but lawmakers have questions. (Israeli Ministry of Defense)

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