JERUSALEM — The US military 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.
The Army last year earmarked over $1 billion to purchase Iron Dome batteries from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and incorporate them into its air defense plans. It took delivery earlier this year on two batteries but has scrapped plans to purchase two more batteries by 2023.
“We believe we cannot integrate them into our air defense system based upon some interoperability challenges and cyber challenges and some other challenges,” Army Futures Command head General Mike Murray told a March 5 House Armed Services subcommittee hearing, Jane’s Defense Weekly reported. “So, what we ended up having really is two standalone batteries that will be very capable, but they cannot be integrated into our air defense system.”
Instead, the Army is planning to host a “shoot off” for potential U.S. and foreign vendors to help determine “the best solution to provide that capability,” he added, according to Jane’s.
Since 2011, Congress has given Israel more than $1.5 billion to produce Iron Dome batteries. In 2014, the U.S. and Israel signed a co-production agreement that would allow parts of the Iron Dome system to be produced in the United States.