WASHINGTON, D.C. – The US decided to scrap its plans to buy two more batteries of the Israeli-made Iron Dome missile system due to concerns about its compatibility with existing American technologies. The main problem has been Israel’s refusal to provide the US military with Iron Dome’s source code which is needed to integrate the system into American air defenses, according to the army, PressTV reported.
General Mike Murray, head of United States Army Futures Command, said on Thursday that, based on some cyber vulnerabilities and operational challenges, the army failed to integrate elements of Iron Dome air-defense system with the US Army’s Integrated Battle Command System.
“It took us longer to acquire those [first] two batteries than we would have liked,” Murray said, adding, “We believe we cannot integrate them into our air defense system based on some interoperability challenges, some cyber challenges and some other challenges.”
In August 2019, the US Defense Department finalized a deal to buy two batteries of the Israeli-made Iron Dome missile system for its interim cruise missile defense capability. Soon thereafter, army officials repeatedly requested Iron Dome “source code”, according to sources. Israel supplied engineering information but ultimately declined to provide the source code.
“So what we’ve ended up having was two stand-alone batteries that will be very capable but they cannot be integrated into our air defense system,” Murray said.
Because Iron Dome will not be integrated with other elements of the US Army’s air- and missile-defense system, the service is canceling plans to buy a second pair of Iron Dome batteries by 2023.
“So, we’re working on a path right now… on a way forward,” Murray said, adding, “We anticipate a shoot-off open to US industry, foreign industry, to go after whatever is the best solution to provide that capability.”
The US military has already tested the system. In September 2017, Israel loaned the US an Iron Dome battery, which was flown to the missile range in White Sands, New Mexico. The US Army has been working with Israeli weapons maker Rafael to develop an American version of the interceptor system since 2017.
In order to integrate the missile system, the US military was going to invest $289.7 million in the missile system in the current fiscal year and another $83.8 million for the next fiscal year. In total, the US Army would spend $1.6 billion for Iron Dome’s full integration until 2024.
The Iron Dome has been co-developed by American company Raytheon and Israeli defense firm Rafael. It is partly manufactured in the United States. The Iron Dome is claimed to be capable of detecting, assessing and intercepting a variety of shorter-range targets such as rockets, artillery and mortars.