As both a proud American and a Diaspora Jew who feels a strong emotional connection to the State of Israel, I am proud of the success of the Israeli-developed Iron Dome short-range missile defense system, which, in exchange for American aid, has given the United States access to cutting-edge anti-missile technology.
The Pentagon gave $70 million in May for the purchase of two new batteries. At it’s current rate, an Iron Dome battery costs about $35 million. While obviously expensive, the Israeli Air Force announced Wednesday that it would be upgrading to the next generation of the Iron Dome. The Iron Dome 2.0 will feature new missiles with a longer range. The system will be able to to cover more ground with less batteries, increasing its cost-effectiveness. Cheaper defensive capabilities are always welcome.
The Iron Dome also made news Tuesday when it intercepted a rocket launched from Gaza that was aimed at Ashkelon. One of many successes, the system has intercepted over 100 rockets since its April 2011 inception. Depending on who you ask, it intercepts between 70 to 90 percent of the rockets it targets. At any rate, the program has saved lives.
While Israel’s short-range missile defense system has been a game-changer in its battles with Hamas and other terrorists in the Gaza Strip, a new missile threat from Islamic militants based in the Sinai Peninsula has arisen in post-Mubarak Egypt. Chaos in the Sinai has provided an abundance of opportunity for militants to harm Israel. The Israel Defense Forces deployed a new Iron Dome battery near Eilat earlier this month to combat these emerging threats.
The success of the Iron Dome validates American cooperation with Israel. In May, on top of Pentagon aid which presumably helped with the costs of the new Eilat battery, Congress gave an additional $680 million to the Jewish state for the development and building of other Iron Dome systems. In exchange, the U.S. asked Israel for access to Iron Dome technology and parts of its production. Though the Iron Dome has been an Israeli project, and a very commendable one, these latest developments–the Eilat battery, the Iron Dome success rate, and the next generation system–came so quickly and successfully, in part, due to American assistance on the project and validates the participation of the Americans.
Americans, too, should see the recent success of the system and be excited to have access to its technology.
As the Iron Dome has been such a resounding success, future joint American-Israeli missile defense projects–such as the intermediate-range Arrow-3 and the long-range David’s Sling–should be greatly anticipated and beneficial for both parties. I hope to see further joint American-Israeli defense cooperation, which I anticipate world Jewry, Israelis, and Americans will all welcome.