The Pentagon has transferred to Israel the first missiles in US inventories for the Iron Dome air-defense system to intercept Hamas rockets, according to a US defense official.
(Bloomberg) — The Pentagon has transferred to Israel the first missiles in US inventories for the Iron Dome air-defense system to intercept Hamas rockets, according to a US defense official.
The initial Tamir interceptors — owned by the US military but located in Israel — will be followed by more from American inventories elsewhere to ensure that Israel has the capabilities to sustain its air-defense systems, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss matters that aren’t public.
The official declined to say why the US had stocks of the interceptor in Israel or where the additional ones are currently located. The missiles are manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Israel with RTX Corp. components made in Arizona.
The initial transfer underscored the alacrity with which the US military moved to resupply Israel. President Joe Biden said after a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday that the US would send the weapons.
Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel as part of its assault on Saturday, some of the biggest barrages ever mounted against the Iron Dome systems deployed to protect the country.
QuickTake: What Is Israel’s Iron Dome Anti-Rocket System?
One missile battery of three to four launchers and radar can defend almost 60 square miles. The batteries are mobile, and as of mid-2021 Israel had ten of them deployed throughout the country, according to US military contractor Raytheon Technologies, the predecessor to RTX, which in 2014 began co-producing Iron Dome with Rafael.
The US Army several years ago established two Iron Dome batteries, now at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. The service has taken delivery of about 312 interceptors, according to internal figures briefed to congressional staff.
If those were sent “that’s a not-insignificant number of Tamirs, not to mention other Iron Dome elements, that the Army could notionally provide to Israel to assist,” said Thomas Karako, a missile defense analyst with Center for Strategic and International Studies who’s followed the Army’s adoption of the system. “The threat is in the thousands, yes, but every interceptor matters,” he said.
Separately, the Marine Corps announced in August that it intended to purchase as many as 1,840 Tamir interceptors and 44 launchers for air defense. Those haven’t been delivered yet.
Each Tamir missile costs about $40,000 to $50,000, according to a researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.
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