In first, US army uses Iron Dome to down drone
A Tamir missile fired from the Iron Dome missile defense battery during a trial in the United States in April, 2016. (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)
Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system successfully intercepted an unmanned drone in the United States earlier this week, in the battery’s first-ever trial on foreign soil.
The US military fired Tamir missiles, the projectiles used in Iron Dome batteries, to successfully down the unmanned aerial vehicle.
According to Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the state-owned company that developed the advanced missile defense systems, the Tamir missile successfully struck and destroyed the target drone.
The trial was conducted by Rafael together with Raytheon, a major American defense contractor and the world’s largest producer of guided missiles.
Rafael quoted the head of the US army’s interceptor program, Lt.-Col. Michael Fitzgerald, as saying the test was part of a larger process of selecting potential air defense systems to be used by the US. So far, the Iron Dome technology has not been sold to foreign militaries.
In 2014, Raytheon won an Israeli contract to supply $149.3 million in Tamir missiles.
Raytheon and Rafael are also jointly developing the Stunner missile that will be used in Israel’s medium-range David’s Sling missile defense system.
The Iron Dome system was jointly developed and funded by the US. It is credited by the IDF with shooting down over 700 rockets from Gaza that were headed for Israeli population centers, a “kill ratio” of about 85-90 percent of the total rockets fired at population centers. (Most of the 4,500 rockets fired from Gaza fell in uninhabited areas in Israel or, in some cases, inside Gaza.)
The threat of attack drones launched towards Israel has in recent years become palpable, with Hezbollah making several attempts to fly unmanned aerial vehicles into Israel. Hamas in the Gaza Strip also tried to fly UAVs into Israeli territory, but the aircraft either were intercepted before managing to fly deep into Israeli airspace or crashed inside the Gaza Strip.
Last year, Rafael released footage of the Iron Dome successfully intercepting a drone for the first time.