According to a statement from Israel's Defense Ministry, the American military told Israel it had decided to purchase the Iron Dome missile defense system "for immediate needs of the U.S. army."
It is not clear for what “immediate needs” the US military requires the battle-tested Israeli system. In a statement the Americans said, “The Iron Dome will be assessed as a system that is currently available to protect deployed U.S. military service members against a wide variety of indirect fire threats and aerial threats.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, called this a “great achievement for Israel” and “further proof of our solid bond with the U.S., as well of Israel's rising status in the world.”
One of the big stories in Israel’s recent technological achievements is the overwhelming success of the Iron Dome. The idea was originally scoffed at by many Israeli leaders back in 2012, when few thought it was possible to bring down the Kassam rockets being fired as Israel from Gaza. In takes only a few seconds for the Iranian-funded missiles to explode in towns and villages along the southern border. According to official statements, the Iron Dome has knocked down thousands of Hamas missiles and over 90% of rockets that would have otherwise struck Israeli population centers.
The system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 2.5 to 43 miles away. Israel hopes to increase the range of Iron Dome's interceptions to 160 miles and make it more versatile so that it could intercept rockets coming from two directions simultaneously. Each Iron Dome battery is capable of protecting an urban area of approximately 58 square miles. In addition to their land-based deployment, Iron Dome batteries will in the future be deployed at sea, where they will protect off-shore gas platforms in conjunction with Israel's ship-based Barak 8 missile system.
Other missile defense batteries typically consists of a radar unit, missile control unit, and several launchers, all located at the same site.
Conversely, Iron Dome is built to deploy in a scattered pattern. Each launcher, containing 20 interceptors, is independently deployed and operated remotely via a secure wireless connection. The first battery was reportedly deployed back in 2011 to protect Air Force bases in southern Israel. Development was accelerated and the system quickly put into the field as Gaza rocket attacks intensified shortly thereafter.