IRON DOME COMING HOME? U.S. government-financed Israeli-made air -defense system fires to intercept a rocket from Gaza Strip in July.
By Paul Miller | Special to Watchdog.org
The U.S. Army denies Israeli media reports that the U.S. has purchased Iron Dome, the Israeli-made, U.S.-financed missile-defense system that some observers say saved thousands of lives in the recent Gaza conflict.
“News reports about a sale of Iron Dome to the Army aren’t true,” Dov Schwartz of Army Public Affairs told Watchdog.org in an email. “The Army hasn’t purchased Iron Dome.”
The Army denial contradicts an Israel National News report that the U.S. would “acquire one Iron Dome battery, and based on tests it will conduct on the system, decide whether or not to purchase more units of the Israeli defense system that reportedly boasted a 90-percent hit rate in [the Gaza war] Operation Protective Edge.”
INN said the deal brings together Israel-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems – the Israel-based company that developed Iron Dome with financial assistance from the United States – and the American company Raytheon. INN said the companies “will develop Iron Dome together on American soil.”
Neither Rafael nor Raytheon responded to multiple requests for comment.
The U.S. has reason to want such a deal.
Rebeccah Heinrichs, a foreign-policy analyst and former manager of the House Missile Defense Caucus, wrote in National Review that U.S. taxpayers had “contributed about $720 million for the Israeli company Rafael to develop the system.” That figure does not include the $225 million congress authorized a few days later.
The U.S. operates the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system and has anti-missile systems aboard Aegis ships. But Heinrichs said, those systems “cannot defend against a Chinese or Russian missile assault. They have more missiles than our system can handle, and Chinese and Russian missiles have countermeasures and decoys specifically designed to fool the U.S. system.”
Iron Dome’s stellar performance has piqued the interest of numerous governments. India, Poland, Ukraine and South Korea have reportedly told Israel they are interested in purchasing it.
But the big winners might be elsewhere: a U.S. purchase of Iron Dome technology could help Gulf states acquire it while maintaining the fiction that they’re boycotting Israel.
Avnis Patel, a member of the British RUSI research institute, told INN, “Arab and Muslim countries – especially Gulf countries bordering Iran – would primarily benefit from the system, but many do not want to buy Israeli arms.”