Israeli-United States bilateral defense has further strengthened with the first delivery of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system for the protection of US troops.
The two nations signed an agreement in February for Washington’s purchase of two batteries from its developer, the state-owned, Haifa-based firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
Israeli Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attended an event to mark the historic occasion at Rafael’s Leshem Institute, accompanied by Economy Minister Amir Peretz, Head of the Directorate of Defense Research & Development (DDR&D), Brig. Gen. (Res.) Dr. Daniel Gold, Rafael Chairman, Dr. Uzi Landau, and Rafael President and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.), Yoav Har-Even.
The Defense Ministry informed TV7 that Lt.-Gen. (Res.) Gantz, who is the former IDF Chief of Staff, also “led working discussions and was briefed by Rafael executives and other MOD senior personnel on ongoing developments and working plans going forward.”
He also “remarked on the direct correlation between Israeli security and technologies produced by Rafael and other defense industry technologies, emphasizing the contribution of defensive technology both to Israeli security and to the Israeli economy, particularly at this time.”
A statement from the US Army said that a number of Iron Dome systems will be purchased from Israel to protect “military service members against a wide variety of indirect fire threats and aerial threats” based on assessment of long-term needs.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed the deal as a “great achievement” and “another manifestation of the deepening of our steadfast alliance with the United States, and an expression of Israel’s rising status in the world.”
The US Congress has given Israel more than $1.5 billion to manufacture Iron Dome batteries. The two countries signed a co-production agreement in 2014 facilitating parts of the system to be manufactured in the US by firms such as Raytheon, which makes parts for interceptors.
The Iron Dome is capable of providing city-wide coverage against Katyusha-type rockets with ranges of between 5 km (3 miles) and 70 km (42 miles), as well as mortar bombs. The system uses small interceptor missiles to shoot down incoming threats.
Since first being deployed in 2011, the Iron Dome is estimated to have intercepted more than 2,400 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza and, according to Israeli and U.S. officials, boasts a 90% success rate in engagements on the border of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory.
Other aerial defense utilized by Israel include the David’s Sling, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 systems.