The U.S. military is cancelling plans to purchase more Iron Dome missile defence batteries from an Israeli defence firm because of difficulties integrating them into the Army’s existing air defence systems.
At issue is Israel’s refusal to provide the U.S. military with certain data, including Iron Dome’s source code, which details how the system works and could aid in integration, The Times of Israel reported.
The Army last year earmarked over £780m ($1 bn) to purchase Iron Dome batteries from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd. and incorporate them into its air defence plans. It took delivery earlier this year on two batteries but has scrapped plans to purchase two more batteries by 2023.
“We believe we cannot integrate them into our air defence system based upon some interoperability challenges and cyber challenges and some other challenges,” Army Futures Command head General Mike Murray told a March 5 House Armed Services subcommittee hearing, Jane’s Defence Weekly reported. “So, what we ended up having really is two standalone batteries that will be very capable, but they cannot be integrated into our air defence system.”
Instead, the Army is planning to host a “shoot off” for potential U.S. and foreign vendors to help determine the “the best solution to provide that capability,” he added, according to Jane’s.
Since 2011, Congress has given Israel more than £1.17bn ($1.5 bn) to produce Iron Dome batteries. In 2014, the U.S. and Israel signed a co-production agreement that would allow parts of the Iron Dome system to be produced in the United States.