U.S. defense contractor Raytheon has been awarded a $149 million contract to provide the Tamir missiles used by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
The contract comes from Israel’s state owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. which developed the system in cooperation with the United States. Raytheon has had a co-marketing agreement with Rafael since 2011.
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The Iron Dome made international headlines and great video for the cable news networks over the summer as it successfully shot down more than 700 (90%) of the longer range rockets that were launched at Israel’s major cities like Tel Aviv by Hamas from their bases in Gaza. But its missiles come at a price and at one point it was reported that Israel only agreed to a brief cease fire in Gaza because it had to restock its missile supply.
The $149 million will come out of the $225 million in extra emergency military aid awarded to Israel by the US Congress back in August to support the Iron Dome. All American funding for the system comes with the requirement that at least half of it be spent in the US, so it is understandable that the contract went to an American company.
Raytheon is one of the world’s largest defense contractors and a producer of guided missiles.
“Iron Dome has proven itself time and again by protecting Israel’s population from incoming rockets, artillery and mortars, ” said Dr.Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. “The sourcing of Tamir interceptor components in the US will go a long way to ensuring sufficient volumes of available Tamir missiles for Israel’s defense.”
“The partnership between the Missile Defense Agency and the Israeli Missile Defense Organization has been extraordinary, ” said DiDi Yaari, chief executive officer of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. “We’re very appreciative of the U.S.’s support for this life-saving system. Maintaining Iron Dome’s supply gives Israelis great peace of mind.”
Interestingly, in spite of the Iron Dome’s proven track record, it has failed to attract much interest from foreign buyers. This might be due to its high price and maintenance costs.
Yosi Druker, vice president of Rafael, told Reuters that his company, “invested a great many millions of shekels in developing this system. It could not afford to have done this without selling abroad.”
That being said, Drucker added that his government does have concerns about sharing the technology with foreign nations, lest it land in the hands of Israel’s enemies.