image Photo: Flash90

US to deploy Iron Dome to Gulf?

Israel has agreed to allow the United States to deploy Iron Dome missile defense system to protect its military bases and other strategic infrastructure abroad.

This, according to the Haaretz newspaper, citing unnamed Israeli security officials.

Israel completed delivery to the US Army of both Iron Dome systems earlier this month, following a February 2020 agreement for Washington’s purchase of two batteries from its developer, the state-owned, Haifa-based firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

The development signaled further strengthening of bilateral defense agreement between the two allies.

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.”

During a ceremony marking the first historic shipment, Israeli Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Benny Gantz 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.”

“The system will assist the US Army in protecting American troops from ballistic and airborne threats, as well as from developing threats in the areas where US troops are deployed on various missions,” stated the Israeli Defense Chief.

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.

The US Congress ranted Israel more than $1.5 billion to manufacture the Iron Dome. 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.

Rafael is now reportedly producing the Iron Dome in the US with the Massachusetts-based Raytheon Technologies Corporation, which the official Israeli sources cited by Haaretz will be used to defend American troops stationed in the Gulf from attacks by Iran and its proxies, or in eastern Europe against potential assault by Russia on US forces or strategic infrastructure in nations where they would be placed.

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.

Israel’s additional advance aerial defense systems include the David’s SlingArrow-2 and Arrow-3 systems.