Raytheon will market the Rafael Iron Dome mobile air defense system in the U.S., the companies announced. Raytheon and Haifa, Israel-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems also are teaming to offer ballistic missile defense and target missile systems.
Development of Iron Dome began in January 2008 to counter short-range rockets, mortars and 155-mm artillery shells. The system can be used in the VShorad (very short range air defense) role against traditional air threats and as a counter-rockets-and-mortar (C-RAM) system. Each battery contains 20 Tamir interceptor missiles and can be carried on military vehicles for rapid redeployment. Targets can be engaged and destroyed at ranges from four to at least 70 km. The system can launch multiple interceptors to handle salvo attacks.
“Iron Dome complements other Raytheon weapons that provide intercept capabilities to the U.S. Army’s counter rocket, artillery and mortar initiative at forward operating bases,” stated Mike Booen, Raytheon Missile Systems vice president. The Rafael system “can be seamlessly integrated” with Raytheon C-RAM systems to provide a layered defense, he said. According to the August announcement, Raytheon and Rafael also are teaming on David’s Sling, a ballistic missile defense system codeveloped by the two companies for the Israel and U.S. missile defense agencies; and Rafael’s Blue Sparrow, a target missile designed to test the U.S.-/Israel-developed Arrow anti-ballistic missile system.
Iron Dome batteries are already deployed in Israel to protect against terrorist rocket attacks. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had two batteries in place this spring, protecting the cities of Ashkalod and Be’er Sheva. Another four or five batteries were in production to widen the defense zone. In April, the Be’er Sheva battery intercepted two Grad rockets launched from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, the IDF said.
Israel plans to invest nearly $1 billion for 10 to 15 Iron Dome batteries, supported by $205 million in financial assistance from the U.S. The Obama administration requested the support in May 2010; Congress approved it as the United States-Israel Rocket and Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act.