WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army said Wednesday it wants to purchase a pair of Iron Dome short-range air defense systems, an interceptor technology developed by Israel with U.S. support.
Army spokesman Col. Patrick Seiber said the deal would meet a short-term need to protect troops from “indirect fire” such as rockets and mortars.
No decisions have been made yet about where the two systems may be deployed.
“The Iron Dome will be assessed and experimented as a system that is currently available to protect deployed U.S. military service members against a wide variety of indirect fire threats and aerial threats,” Seiber said in a statement.
Iron Dome systems have been in operation by the Israeli air force since 2011 and have seen frequent use in thwarting rocket attacks from Gaza and elsewhere.
Seiber said the U.S. Army will “assess a variety of options” for a system that could be used in the long term.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, called the deal further proof of Israel’s alliance with the U.S.
“Israel has an Iron Dome and an iron fist. Our systems know how to deal with any threat, both in defense and in attack. I would not recommend our enemies to try us,” he said in a defense ministry statement.
Seiber said the U.S. Army proposes spending $1.6 billion through 2024 to field an “enduring capability” that may include portions of the Iron Dome system.
The Iron Dome system was developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with the help of U.S. funding.
It is designed to intercept rockets and artillery shells fired from a range of 4 to 70 km (3 to 45 miles).
Each battery comprises detection and tracking radar, state-of-the-art fire control software and three launchers, each with 20 interceptor missiles.