WASHINGTON: The Rafael-made Iron Dome system successfully defeated cruise missiles and unmanned aerial system substitutes in a recent test with the U.S. military at White Sands Missile Range, the Israeli company announced today. .
The Army currently has two Iron Dome batteries, which it calls the Iron Dome Defense System, which are designated as its Incremental Cruise Missile Defense System as the service develops its Indirect Fire Protection (IFPC) capability, l one of its top 35 modernization priorities. The service received the first Iron Dome system in 2020.
According to a press release from Rafael, soldiers from the Army’s Third Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment “succeeded in detecting, tracking, and intercepting multiple CM and UAS surrogate targets.” Pini Yungman, the company’s executive vice president and chief air and missile defense director, added that US soldiers were using the system against a “variety of threats and intercepting targets at different ranges.”
According to a statement by Moshe Patel, the director of Israel’s Missile Defense Organization, Iron Dome intercepted “all threats” and was interoperable with US systems. He also said this was Iron Dome’s second test with the military.
The Army has not publicly announced where it plans to place its two Iron Dome batteries; however, fiscal year 2023 budget books show the military plans for one to be located overseas, while the other will remain in the United States for “rapid deployment.” In Rafael’s statement, Maj. Gen. Brian Gibson, who recently left his post with the Army’s cross-functional air and missile defense team, said part of the goal was to ensure that the system can be integrated into current army air defenses.
“It’s important to understand that the implementation for the United States is about the ability to fit this system into our air defense picture,” said Gibson, now commander of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. “We need to integrate this into our American architecture and give confidence to our regional commanders that we can integrate this system safely into what they have.”
The Iron Dome capability will help soldiers in fixed and semi-fixed locations defeat cruise missiles, rockets, artillery, mortars, and unmanned aircraft from groups two and three. Last October, the Army sent a battery to Guam, fulfilling a congressional mandate to deploy the system to an operational theater by the end of last year.
Rafael and Raytheon submitted an upgraded version of Iron Dome to the military for its IFPC program, but the service awarded the $237 million contract to Leidos subsidiary Dynetics following a shootout . The first battery of launcher prototypes is expected to be delivered to the military in the fourth quarter of FY23.
The United States Marine Corps also recently tested Iron Dome components during trials for the service’s medium-range intercept capability, designated for coastal marine regiments. The prototype included the Iron Dome ground launcher and Tamir interceptor missiles.
“We needed a longer range air defense capability to be able to cover these highly mobile units (Marine Littoral Regiments),” Gen. Eric Smith, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps, said last month. “We asked for a mean solution to a mean problem. Great mobility, lightness and much longer reach. And the MRIC provided it to us.