Israeli stockpiles of Iron Dome munitions are dwindling as Hamas fires hundreds of rockets daily, reviving US interest in augmenting production, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing unidentified US Army and industry officials.
The newspaper added that a US production line would help Israel restock its arsenal for future conflicts, but it would take months to get started.
The Iron Dome is the last layer of defense in Israel’s three-tiered system for shooting down projectiles, drones, and enemy aircraft. The Israeli-developed system and its Tamir interceptor missiles are built largely with Pentagon funding under a partnership between Haifa, Israel-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and US defense contractor RTX Corp.
RTX’s Raytheon Technologies unit already makes around 70% of components for the Tamir in Arizona, and the companies announced plans in 2020 to build a new US factory for assembling the interceptor missiles. However, the project didn’t go forward after the US Army chose a US-developed missile defense system in 2021, opting against using the Iron Dome. The competing system was reportedly deemed a better fit for potential conflicts in Asia-Pacific, where it would need to intercept faster missiles over longer distances.
The WSJ said that the latest war may trigger enough demand for the munitions to justify US production of the interceptors. Israel already operates ten Iron Dome batteries, and the Pentagon reportedly agreed earlier this month to give the country two Iron Domes that the US Army purchased three years ago, along with more than 200 Tamir missiles.
Iron Dome batteries – consisting of multiple mobile launchers, a radar, and a control system that identifies threats – are designed to defend an area of nearly 60 square miles. While the US Army opted against the Iron Dome, the US Marine Corps plans to acquire 44 launchers and 1,840 Tamir interceptors. Media reports suggest that each missile costs around $50,000.