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US army to purchase Iron Dome systems from Israel

US military says Iron Dome missile defence system manufactured by Israeli defence contractors 'will be assessed and experimented'
Israel's Iron Dome system has received hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from Washington (AFP/File photo)

The United States army has announced plans to purchase the Iron Dome missile defence system from Israel, which has already received hundreds of millions of dollars from Washington.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US military said it will "assess a variety of options for its long-term [indirect fire protection capacity] solution".

"The Iron Dome will be assessed and experimented as a system that is currently available to protect deployed US military service members against a wide variety of indirect fire threats and aerial threats," US Army Colonel Patrick Seiber said, as reported by CNN.

The military did not say how many Iron Dome systems it intends to buy, nor did it say where they would be deployed.

"No decisions have been made regarding the fielding or experimentation of Iron Dome in specific theaters," Seiber said in the statement.

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Developed by Israeli defence firms Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, the Iron Dome is a missile defence system that has the capacity to fire a missile at an incoming projectile and destroy it in mid-air.

The Israeli army has touted the system, first deployed in 2011, as a way to protect against incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

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On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the US army's plans to purchase the Iron Dome system, calling it a "great achievement for Israel", Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Netanyahu also said the purchase reflects "further proof of our solid bond with the US, as well of Israel's rising status in the world".

"Israel has an Iron Dome and an iron fist. Our systems can face any threat," he said.

The Iron Dome has received hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from Washington.

In August 2014, former US president Barack Obama approved $225m in additional funding for the system, after Israel appealed to Congress for backing to replenish its stock of interceptor missiles.

US lawmakers overwhelmingly backed that demand, approving it by a 395-8 vote in the House of Representatives and unanimously in the Senate.

Earlier that same year, the US Department of Defense signed an agreement with Israel to provide $429m in funding to support the procurement of Iron Dome systems and interceptors.

The deal also provided "for significant co-production opportunities for US industry", the Times of Israel reported in March 2014.

Indeed, the Iron Dome also includes components made by US defence contractor Raytheon.

Additionally, Raytheon says on its website that it is "working toward production of a US version of Iron Dome called the 'SkyHunter missile' that could someday defend forward-deployed American forces".

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