Raphael and Raytheon will set up a production line for Iron Dome interceptors in the US

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This afternoon, the largest aircraft in the world, Antonov 225 Maria, originally built to fly the Soviet space shuttle Buran, landed at Ben Gurion Airport. He brought to the country US Army ‘Oshkosh’ trucks, which will be adapted by the Raphael company, for logistical support of two Iron Dome batteries purchased by the Americans.

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At the same time, the American Raphael and Raytheon signed an agreement to establish a joint production line for the Iron Dome interceptor, the Tamir missile, and its American version, known as the Sky Hunter. By the end of the year it will be decided where in the US the venture will be established, which has been given the name Raytheon-Raphael Regional Defense Systems.

Already today, 50% of the components of the Iron Dome system are manufactured in the United States, at the request of the American government, which finances the Israeli equipment with a rocket interception system. The components are sent for assembly at Rafael’s missile production plant in Israel.

The joint venture, however, was designed to provide interceptors for the U.S. military, which as part of ordering the first two batteries ordered 240 interceptors. However, setting up a factory for such a number of missiles is not economical, so it seems that the two companies are expecting more orders from the Pentagon – either by purchasing additional Iron Dome batteries, or by integrating dome interceptors into American air defense systems.

Iron Dome Photo: AFP

In addition to the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps has also expressed interest in a system capable of intercepting cruise missiles, UAVs and short-range fighter jets. Raphael has developed the ability to integrate Tamir interceptors into existing anti-aircraft systems, using their radar and command and control systems, which reduces the cost of equipping the Israeli missile and allows it to upgrade old systems.

The Pentagon, which does not normally purchase foreign weapons systems, purchased the Iron Dome as an intermediate solution until a new American interception system was developed. Raytheon, which manufactures missiles and radars, and the Patriot system among others, will bid in a tender to develop such a system with its own radars and command systems, and intercepts the Sky Hunter.

The U.S. military has announced that two Iron Dome batteries will be declared operational by the end of 2021, and that before that they will conduct an operational firing test, during which they will also be required to intercept cruise missiles.

The deal for the two batteries for the Americans was for a total of $ 373 million. The price of each Tamir missile is estimated at about $ 50,000, making it a relatively inexpensive interceptor, which will help it compete in future procurement auctions around the world.

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