The U.S. Army plans to buy two Israeli-developed Iron Dome batteries as an interim missile defense system, The Times of Israel reported on Jan. 18. Iron Dome, jointly produced and funded with the U.S., has achieved more than 1,700 interceptions, downing unmanned air vehicle, mortars, rockets and artilleries. The purchase is worth $373 million and is the first part of a $1.7 billion missile defense project. The batteries are set to be deployed next year.
On Jan. 23, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi awarded the IDF Medal of Appreciation to CENTCOM Commander Gen. Joseph Votel. The medal was awarded in recognition of Gen. Votel’s personal leadership in furthering the exceptional partnership between the two militaries. Gen. Votel’s visit to Israel included discussions with IDF commanders covering several topics of mutual interest, such as the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, regional stability efforts, Operation Northern Shield and developments on the Lebanese border. Gen. Votel also described how Israel played a crucial role in helping the U.S. military address of threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which were killing American soldiers in Iraq. “From that point forward, it became very clear to me that this was a great partnership which we had to continue fostering at any cost,” said Gen. Votel.
The U.S. reached another contract for Israeli defense systems, the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems contractor announced on Jan. 9. The contracts are for an Israeli-developed missile defense system to protect U.S. tanks and armored personnel carriers, known as Trophy. The systems, which detect and destroy incoming anti-tank missiles and rockets in midair, will be supplied to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps by the American defense contractor Leonardo DRS, Inc., which partnered with Rafael to manufacture them.
On Jan. 22, the Israeli Missile Defense Organization in cooperation with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency completed a successful test of the Arrow-3 missile defense system, which is designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside of the earth’s atmosphere. The highly advanced system is the outermost layer of Israeli’s multilayered missile defense shield and is annually funded in part by the United States.
Antitank Guided Missile (ATGM) technologies have advanced in recent years and are increasingly available throughout the Middle East, according to a Jan. 2 Wall Street Journal report. This poses a threat to sophisticated battle tanks and highlights a gap in U.S. military preparedness. The U.S. has primarily fought enemies that utilized improvised explosive devices, mines and rocket-propelled grenades. Meanwhile, “Israel has become a world leader in devising protection against these weapons, having faced missile proliferation threats for more than a decade,” according to the report. Two Israeli companies in particular have taken the lead in active armor, which is a high-tech system that uses sensors to detect an incoming missile and shoot back at it. Although the U.S. has been working on this technology since the 1950s, it has come to rely on an Israeli armor systems for its top-tier-battle vehicles.