The great success of Israel's Iron Dome rocket defense system is a good example of how Israel's military advances are important to the American military maintaining our cutting edge capabilities. An article by Bill Smearcheck of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), explains the promise for America:
Iron Dome's proven effectiveness [a greater than 80 percent success rate - ed.] has greatly increased expectations that it will be a popular product on the world market and has drawn considerable attention to possible co-production in the United States.
Developed by the Israeli firms Elta, mPrest Systems, and Rafael, the relatively low-cost Iron Dome system (estimated to be $85,000 per Tamir interceptor missile and $20 million per battery), enjoyed an unprecedentedly rapid development cycle going from drawing board to operational system in five years.
Created to intercept rockets with ranges from 2.5 to 44 miles, Iron Dome is able to selectively engage incoming rockets and mortar and artillery rounds determined by the system to be headed for civilian population centers or national assets.
The United States stands to benefit from its investment in financial support for Iron Dome:
Iron Dome's affordability and effectiveness has had an enormous impact on both the United States government and the American aerospace and defense community. Congress increased U.S. assistance to allow Israel to field additional Iron Dome batteries after the system proved itself highly successful at intercepting Hamas rockets from its first in April 2011 through mid-2012.
At the end of July 2012, a new tranche of $70 million in U.S. support funds was sent to Israel to speed up the fielding of additional batteries intended to cover the Lebanon border as well as Gaza and Sinai. $190 million in Israeli government funding was recently approved; the ongoing defense of Israel from Hamas rocket attacks serving as an impetus for the additional procurement.
Support within Congress was made palpable by the recent insertion of language into the not-yet-approved FY-2013 Defense Authorization Act endorsing potential coproduction with Israel. The House Committee on Armed Forces wrote into the National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2013 that the Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, "should explore any opportunity to enter into co-production of the Iron Dome system with Israel, in light of the significant U.S. investment in this system." This would likely entail joint research with American firms, facilitating improvements in the Iron Dome interceptors. The authorization bill would also allocate an additional $1 billion to support Iron Dome and David's Sling, a medium layer missile defense system. In the Israeli missile defense architecture, Iron Dome covers the low level, short-range threats, David's Sling handles the medium level threats, and the Arrow system covers the upper-tier threats.
Make no mistake; we have a need for the capabilities:
American acquisition of Iron Dome technology is "inevitable," asserted Randy Jennings, a defense consultant and former congressional staffer. He told the audience that it would fulfill America's future and current military defense needs in theaters similar to Afghanistan, as well as provide a proven system during a time of strained defense budgets.
Davidovitz said that, "if the U.S. decides to produce the system for its own needs, a big part of the production would be in the U.S."
Americans are accustomed to our skies being safe and secure, but the lawlessness of certain regions along our southern border, along with the ease of transporting and assembling offensive missiles, combined with the dissemination of drone technologies means that we may well need to protect ourselves from small offensive craft in our own skies. Iron Dome may have a major payoff for both Israel and the United States.
Hat tip: Karin McQuiillan