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US Army fires first Iron Dome interceptor in test

CM 23/08/2021

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US Army forces completed a firing test of the first Iron Dome missile defense battery purchased by the United States, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday.
The series of experiments took place at White Sands experimental field in New Mexico and saw US Army troops successfully intercept targets.
The tests were done in collaboration with the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and mPrest, producers of software technology.
According to a statement released by the ministry, the Iron Dome system in its American configuration is expected “to protect deployed American forces from a variety of aerial threats, including cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, rockets and shrapnel.”
While America has its THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase, it does not have any short-range air defense solutions.
The US Army Iron Dome battery completes a first live-fire test operated by US soldiers, Aug 23, 2021 (Credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESPERSON’S OFFICE)
The purchase was made to fill its short-term needs for an Indirect Fire Protection Capability until a permanent solution to the problem is put in place to best protect ground maneuvering troops against an increasingly wide range of aerial threats, including short-range projectiles.
The US Army purchased the two off-the-shelf batteries from Rafael in August 2019, which were delivered in late 2020. The army has since been in the process of examining and building training systems for the batteries.
According to a February report in Defense News, the US Army has been finalizing where to deploy the two batteries with Brig.-Gen. Brian Gibson, the lead on the service’s air and missile defense modernization effort, saying that they would not be “parked in a parking garage.”
“That plan is being developed and finalized at the headquarters of the Department of the Army and across the enterprise on what makes sense based on all the various variables that get a vote including threat, money, transportation, time – all those things,” Gibson told Defense News in a recent interview.
“But I’m confident from a user perspective that if directed to do so, we’re on a timeline and on a path to make it absolutely feasible to deploy this thing, and that remains our intent. Our intent is not to park them in a parking garage.”
 The missile system being tested (credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE) The missile system being tested (credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESPERSON’S OFFICE)
The purchase of the batteries included 12 launchers, two sensors, two battlement management centers and 240 interceptors.
The prime contractor for the development and production of the Iron Dome is Rafael Advanced Systems. The MMR radar is developed by ELTA, a subsidiary of IAI, and the command and control system is developed by mPrest.
The fully mobile system carries 10 kg. of explosives and can intercept an incoming projectile from four to 70 km. away. It is able to calculate when rockets will land in open areas – choosing not to intercept them – or toward civilian centers.
The Army earmarked over $1 billion for the project to integrate components of the system into the US military’s Integrated Battle Command System. A 2023 deadline was imposed by Congress on the military to either develop its own system or purchase additional Iron Dome systems from Israel.
The world’s largest cargo plane, an Antonov AN-225, landed at Ben-Gurion airport last year carrying US military Oshkosh trucks to be fitted with Iron Dome launchers purchased by the US Army.
The Iron Dome, which is designed to shoot down short-range rockets, is an integral component of Israel’s multi-layered defense array.
The Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 systems intercept ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere while David’s Sling missile defense system is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles and medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired from ranges of 40 km. to 300 km.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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