U.S. Army doesn't want any more Iron Dome systems

American defense media reports that system isn’t a long-term solution for US Army.

Iron Dome testing  (photo credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
Iron Dome testing
Almost a year after the US Army purchased two Iron Dome missile interceptor batteries, Washington has seemingly backed out of additional purchases and plans to deconstruct the system to integrate it with other air defense battle management systems, according to the Breaking Defense news site.
Last year the US Army purchased two batteries off-the-shelf from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which included 12 launchers, two sensors, two battlement management centers and 240 interceptors.
The purchase was made to fill its short-term needs for an Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IPC) until a permanent solution to the problem is put in place to protect ground maneuvering troops against an increasingly wide range of aerial threats, including short-range projectiles.
But according to reports in American defense media, the US Army does not want the Iron Dome long-term.
“As a long-term enduring solution, absolutely not,” Brig.-Gen. Brian Gibson, Air and Missile Defense Cross Functional Team director, was quoted by Breaking Defense as saying on Tuesday to the Association of the US Army (AUSA).
According to Gibson, who is in charge of the Army’s air-and-missile defense modernization, it “would be fundamentally wrong” to purchase additional Iron Dome systems as it would go against “everything we’re trying to achieve.”
Following the purchase by the US Army, the Marine Corps was reported to also be looking to purchase the Iron Dome system, known as SkyHunter in the US, due to the “advancing military capabilities from Russia and China as well as the proliferation of drone technology among small terror groups.”
According to Defense News, the US Army has “taken a step back to rethink its enduring IFPC program strategy.”
“It’ll be something different that we will develop,” Gibson was quoted as saying.
The purchase of the Israeli system last year was made “because we had nothing else out there...We needed some immediate capability above the tactical level,” Gibson told Breaking Defense. “It was developed for a very specific threat and it does incredible things, but we intend to operate it differently – we intend to operate it in support of an army on the move. It’s not just going to be static.”
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 any short-range air defense solutions.
According to the Breaking Defense report, a 2023 deadline was imposed by Congress on the US military to develop its own system or by law will need to purchase additional Iron Dome systems from Israel.
The Iron Dome system is built by Israel’s Rafael, Israel Aerospace Industries and Raytheon, which manufactures the American-made Patriot missile system. The radars are from ELTA System, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries.
The fully mobile system carries 10 kg. of explosives and can intercept an incoming projectile from four to 70 km. away. It is able to calculate when rockets will land in open areas, choosing not to intercept them, or toward civilian centers.
Since its first deployment in April 2011 outside Beersheba, it has intercepted roughly 85% of projectiles fired toward Israeli civilian centers, changing the face of battle between Israel and its enemies.
The Iron Dome has been used during military operations against Hamas and against missiles launched by Iranian troops from Syria toward Israel’s northern Golan Heights.
“The State of Israel is grateful to the American administration for its ongoing support of Israel’s defense system and will be happy to assist as much as the U.S. administration requires its help,” read a statement given to The Jerusalem Post from Israel’s Ministry of Defense.
Rafael had no comment on the reports.