Raytheon Missiles & Defense and RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., an Israeli-based defense technology company, signed a joint venture Monday to establish an Iron Dome Weapon System production facility in the United States.
The new partnership, called Raytheon RAFAEL Area Protection Systems, anticipates finalizing a site location before the end of the year.
"This will be the first Iron Dome all-up-round facility outside of Israel, and it will help the U.S. Department of Defense and allies across the globe obtain the system for defense of their service members and critical infrastructure," said Raytheon Missiles & Defense Systems' Sam Deneke, vice president of Land Warfare & Air Defense business execution.
The new facility will produce both the Iron Dome Weapon System, which consists of the Tamir interceptor and launcher, and the SkyHunter missile, a U.S. derivative of Tamir. Both Tamir and SkyHunter intercept incoming cruise missiles, unmanned aerial systems and short-range targets such as rockets, artillery, mortars and other aerial threats.
On July 31, the U.S. and Israel signed an agreement to make the THAAD missile interoperable with the Israeli Iron Dome.
The Iron Dome is developed by Rafael, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Raytheon, with the latter providing parts for interceptors used in the system. The radar systems are from IAI’s ELTA Systems company. The defense system works by tracking incoming short-range projectiles by radar, then analyses data about the likely impact zone - before assessing whether to provide co-ordinates to a missile firing unit to intercept. It targets incoming rockets and fires an interceptor missile to destroy them in the air. Each battery has a firing-control radar to identify targets. The defense system also has a portable missile launcher and is easily transportable, with just a few hours needed to relocate and set up.