Published On: Thu, Apr 21st, 2016

Iron Dome intercepts drone on US soil for first time

The Tamir missile designed by Israeli defense company Rafael successfully shoots down an American drone in a US Army test.

Iron Dome's Tamir interceptor being fired (Photo Rafael spokesperson)

The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system successfully shot down an American drone in a first test of its kind conducted by the US Army last week.

Special adjustments were made to the Iron Dome interceptor missile Tamir prior to the test so that it would be compatible with the US launcher.

This was the first time that a test of the Iron Dome interceptor against a drone target was held on US soil.

In Rafael’s announcement, Lt. Col. Michael Fitzgerald, head of the project in the US Army, was quoted as saying that the launch and interception from a multi-purpose launcher were highly successful, and that this was part of an examination of a number of air defense alternatives being conducted by the US Army.

The US Army is considering buying the Israeli system from Rafael, which has so far not been acquired by foreign armies, and the test was part of this review.

In recent years, Iron Dome has been upgraded to intercept not only rockets, missiles and UAVs, but also manned aircraft, artillery, helicopters and glide bombs, although it was first designed to intercept short-distance Qassam rockets. Earlier this month, the Air Force celebrated the fifth anniversary of Iron Dome’s first interception.

Pini Jungman , head of missile defense systems at Rafael, pointed out that the next step will consist of performing a full match of the US missile program’s requirements and a series of additional tests. The Iron Dome system has shot down more than 1, 500 rockets since 2011, at a success rate of around 90 percent.

The test was carried out in cooperation with the American defense contractor Raytheon, which specializes in the development of military defense systems and civilian solutions in the field of cyber warfare. Raytheon and Rafael have collaborated on several occasions, most notably on the David’s Sling air defense system, as well as joint manufacturing of the Iron Dome system’s components in the United States.

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