Army doubts Iron Dome can kill cruise missiles

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Launch of the iron dome

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israeli arms maker Rafael has been slow to provide critical data on how his iron dome defends itself against cruise missiles and whether it can connect to existing U.S. missile defenses, have said senior military officials today.

army video screenshot

Bruce jette

“The Israelis have worked very well with us – for the most part,” Army procurement chief Bruce Jette told reporters at McAleese’s annual defense conference. “We’ve gotten to places where it’s getting a bit difficult to get the right data.”

“They espoused, and to some extent demonstrated, the ability to cope with some cruise missiles, ”Jette said of the Israelis. “The problem is, we have to manage all cruise missiles, and we don’t think we have done that yet.

“Could they modify it to work that way?” Maybe, ”Jette said. “Could we see it happening on all terrains? May be. In all electromagnetic spectrum situations [i.e. against radar and radio jamming]? May be.”

“All of these things add up,” he said. “We have a lot to test before we say, ‘yes, we have the answer. “

Congress forced a reluctant military to purchase two batteries of Israel’s much-vaunted system – developed largely with US funds – as interim defense after the military’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) program experienced problems. The military has since restarted the IFPC, which will include both anti-missile missiles and high-powered lasers, and the service remains publicly skeptical of Iron Dome. But today was the first time we heard senior officials explain Why in such ruthless details.

“For the IFPC requirement, we must be able to combat the threat of cruise missiles,” Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy told reporters at the conference this morning. “Iron Dome brings more capabilities than we have in our missile defense [force] today, but it does not meet all the requirements.

Ryan mccarthy

“One of the things we need to sort out is to get more data from the manufacturer. [It’s] owner of their point of view, but if we don’t get it, we don’t know if we can make any adjustments, ”McCarthy explained. “If we get more data, we can make better decisions about reengineering certain aspects of the weapon system. [so] that it could effectively pursue cruise missiles.

Show me the data

“Iron Dome is a good system,” Jette said. “He’s really well designed to do what he does – which is [counter] rockets, artillery and mortars, in a particular configuration, in a particular environment. [Some studies would disagree with Jette about Iron Dome’s effectiveness, even against rockets]

“We have to pay attention to different parameters,” Jette said. “We have to operate in an extremely contested environment… If others haven’t already been there and can show us that they can operate in these environments, then this gives us pause.”

In other words (our words, not Jette’s): it is one thing to set up static positions to defend Israel’s area – slightly larger than New Jersey, counting disputed territories – against unguided rockets fired by Hamas or Hezbollah, plus the possibility of an Iranian-made imitation of an old Chinese or Russian cruise missile. It’s another to deploy with the US military all over the world, from the Norwegian Arctic to the South China Sea, from the Kuwaiti deserts to the Afghan mountains, against adversaries with high powered jammers to blind your radars and supersonic cruise missiles to outsmart your interceptors. .

Photo by Northrop Grumman

The mobile command post of the Army’s new IBCS air and missile defense network.

Provisional and partial solutions

How could the military not already have figured this out, one reporter asked, when the decision to buy Iron Dome was made over a year ago?

“More than a year?” McCarthy responded. “It was in NDAA [the National Defense Authorization Act] a year ago – and then we had to go get them under contract and buy them. [There’s] more work to be done with the manufacturer before being able to know what changes you would make to the test regimen.

“It’s not like we have them on hand,” he said. “I don’t think they’ve made them yet.”

Even when the Israelis deliver the two Iron Dome batteries to the military, that does not commit the military to buy more. “We are leaving our options open in the IFPC study that we handed over to the Hill a few weeks ago,” said McCarthy.

“Remember it was temp worker systems, interim solutions, ”Jette said of Iron Dome. “They weren’t necessarily meant to be the final solution. It doesn’t mean they can’t to contribute be the final solution.

Northrop Grumman Chart

A simplified (yes, really) overview of the army’s IBCS command and control network for air and missile defense.

May be rooms of Iron Dome can evolve into rooms of the military’s future indirect fire protection capability, Jette suggested. “We knew from the start that part of our testing with Iron Dome would be figuring out how do we separate the pieces,” he said. “We will give Iron Dome the opportunity to participate in this approach to producing an IFPC module. “

But figuring out how to integrate elements of Iron Dome – currently an autonomous system with its own missiles, launchers, radars, and command posts – with US military systems is going to require even Following very technical data.

“We already have a missile command center. IBC [Integrated Battle Command System] already fire all our missiles; we need them to be able to fire their missiles, ”Jette said. “How do we communicate with the radar? How can our radar work with their missiles? This stuff is all parts that we have to sort out.


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