Sen. John Boozman is pressing the Pentagon to upend its plans for Iron Dome and deploy one battery to the Middle East ― the latest sign of impatience on Capitol Hill with the Army’s fielding plans.
The Army is buying the Israeli-made system as a short-term fix while it develops its own program, the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, or IBCS, to counter cruise missiles, rockets and mortars. The Army has concluded that Iron Dome’s proprietary systems cannot be integrated with IBCS and that it will be treated as a stand-alone capability.
Army officials plan to field Iron Dome’s first two batteries in the U.S. at the end of the year, but it will take time to train troops on the systems before deployment. The batteries are produced through a partnership between Rafael and Raytheon, and they’re due to arrive this fall.
In a May 14 letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Boozman, R-Ark., said a February trip to Iraq convinced him that U.S. and coalition forces there need the protection right now from Iran and its proxies. There is also a local connection: Raytheon’s Camden, Arkansas, facility would produce the last portion of the system’s interceptor projectile, in partnership with Rafael.
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