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US army decides against purchasing more Iron Dome missile batteries from Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli Iron Dome missile system (Photo by US army)

The US military has decided not to purchase Israel's Iron Dome to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells after testing the purported all-weather aerial missile system earlier this summer.

According to a report in Defense News website, Washington opted for Enduring Shield system developed by American company Dynetics after a shoot-off and comparative tests between the two systems at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico last month.

The Israeli ministry of military affairs and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems – the primary developer and manufacturer of the Iron Dome system -- told Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post that they would not be commenting on the report.

The US decision is expected to be a significant setback for the Israeli military which has always tried to sell off the alleged capabilities of the system despite failing repeatedly against projectiles fired from Gaza. 

Under a 2019 agreement, the US army purchased two off-the-shelf Iron Dome batteries from Israel.

The first battery was reportedly delivered in late 2020 and the second in January 2021 for a cost of $373 million.

Back in March this year, the US army announced it was reconsidering plans to buy additional Iron Dome systems because they could not be integrated into American-made air missile systems.

“We believe we cannot integrate them into our air-defense system based upon some interoperability challenges, some cyber challenges and some other challenges,” US General Mike Murray, commander of Army Futures Command, said at the time.

Washington is said to have contributed $1.6 billion in funding Israel's Iron Dome system since 2011, and the American defense company Raytheon is a partner with Rafael in the production of Iron Dome subsystem parts that are produced throughout 15 states in the United States.

Nevertheless, one of the challenges cited in the US’s procurement of more Iron Dome batteries was Israel's reluctance to share the system's source code, which would be necessary in order to integrate it with other American missile systems.

“What you're probably - almost certainly - going to see is two standalone systems, and if the best we can do is standalone systems, we do not want to buy another two batteries,” US General Mike Murray stated last year.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett that the Biden administration was working to fulfill Israel's request for $1 billion in emergency funding to replenish the Iron Dome.

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