Israel will purchase four more Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries to defend its citizens in the south against terrorist attacks from Gaza.
The systems, each of which costs approximately $50 million, will be purchased with financial assistance from the Pentagon.
U.S. Army Lieutenant-General Patrick O'Reilly, director for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, made the announcement Wednesday at a meeting of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee. “In our budget we have a proposal to assist with procurement of four more batteries,” he told the legislators. The Congress officially approved the expenditure last May.
Procurement of the batteries will cost the U.S. Department of Defense $200 million, according to Globes. Each Iron Dome system costs $50 million and each interceptor costs $40,000. The systems should be operational by late 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama made the request to the Pentagon last year to purchase the systems for Israel.
In making the announcement, O'Reilly said he considers the system to be “highly effective” in combat. However, he added, he believes Israel faces a “daunting task” in defending itself against the onslaught of missile and mortar fire from Gaza terrorists against its communities in the south.
“This is one in which the United States benefits from understanding and studying exactly how they've been successful with the Iron Dome system,” he told the lawmakers, noting that American troops could face similar risks in future combat.
The Iron Dome anti-rocket system is designed to intercept short-range rockets and mortar shells with ranges of 5 km (3 miles) to 70 km (45 miles) and destroy them in mid-air. It is built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
At present, two such systems are deployed in Israel. One is located in Be'er Sheva, to defend the city against mid-range Grad Katyusha missiles that have been fired from Gaza. The other is deployed in the coastal city of Ashkelon, which has been attacked repeatedly by terrorists in the Hamas-ruled region.