U.S. Marine Corps eyeing Israel's Iron Dome system

Announcement comes after the system intercepted 240 out of 690 rockets launched from Gaza towards Israel over the weekend.

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May 12, 2019 01:12
2 minute read.
U.S. Marine Corps eyeing Israel's Iron Dome system

Iron Dome testing . (photo credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)

 
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The US Marine Corps is reportedly interested in purchasing Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

According to a report in the Marine Corps Times, the Corps is looking to purchase the system, known as SkyHunter in the United States, due to the “advancing military capabilities from Russia and China, as well as the proliferation of drone technology among small terror groups.”

The report which referenced briefing slides prepared for the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the USMC has sought limited funding for 2019 to begin testing and integrating the system with the Corp’s Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) and mount the launchers and Tamir rockets on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and Oshkosh’s Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement truck.

Less than six months ago, the US Army bought two Iron Dome batteries.

Since its initial deployment in 2011 outside Beersheba, the Iron Dome has intercepted roughly 85% of projectiles fired towards Israeli civilian centers, changing the face of battle between Israel and her enemies.

In the last round of fighting between Israel and groups in the Gaza Strip, 690 rockets were fired towards Israel in the span of less than 48 hours. While the majority landed in open territory and caused no injuries, the batteries intercepted 240 of the rockets on a trajectory towards a residential area.

The system is built by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries and Raytheon, which manufactures the American-made Patriot missile system. The radar is from ELTA System, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries.

The Iron Dome carries 10 kg. of explosives and can intercept an incoming projectile from four to 70 km. away. It differentiates between rockets which will land in open areas, and those heading to civilian centers.


Used in several military operations against Hamas, it also recently intercepted a long-range missile launched by Iranian troops from Syria towards the Mount Hermon ski resort.

In prior operations in Gaza, the Iron Dome struggled to intercept short-range mortar shells fired towards Israel. But Israel has been upgrading its multi-layered aerial defense system and the Iron Dome now intercepts short-range missiles and mortars.

While the United States has its THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase, the American military does not have a short-range air defense solution.

Last year reports surfaced that the US Army saw an urgent need for an interim solution to fill the gap in its defenses, especially in the European arena, until a permanent solution to the problem is put in place to best protect troops against an increasingly wide range of aerial threats, including short-range projectiles.

In February, Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the US Department of Defense agreed to a deal which saw the purchase of two Iron Dome batteries to fill the US military’s short-term needs for an Indirect Fire Protection Capability.

“The Iron Dome system will be used for deployed US military forces as a defense system against a wide range of ballistic and airborne threats, and will be tested in the long run as part of a range of possible US military responses to aerial threats,” read a statement by the Ministry of Defense.

The US Army had asked Congress for $373 million to buy two batteries off-the-shelf from Rafael, which include 12 launchers, two sensors, two battlement management centers and 240 interceptors. Washington wants them delivered by 2020.

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