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Iron Dome arrives at JBLM

The Army has two Iron Dome batteries and will field both at JBLM. Photo credit: David Huskey, DVIDS

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Iron Dome technology will find a home at Joint Base Lewis-McChord according to a Breaking Defense story published late last week.

"Soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord ... will receive both of the U.S. Army's Iron Dome batteries, but the service hasn't decided whether to actually deploy the system," a spokesperson told Breaking Defense.

Breaking Defense reported that Congress directed the service to purchase both Rafael-made batteries as an "interim" cruise missile defense capability.

"Soldiers at JBLM have now learned to operate the first battery, and (a defense spokesperson) noted that new equipment training on the second battery should be completed by the end of March," the media source stated. 

"Beyond fielding, military leadership has not directed soldiers to deploy with the new Iron Dome Defense System - Army (IDDS-A) batteries. The service previously sent one battery to Guam for testing, however, and should the decision be made to deploy the capability, having both batteries based at JBLM would allow for one to be more easily deployed to the Indo-Pacific region."

"The Army appears to be keeping it accessible should the need arise in the Indo-Pacific region, for instance, but there's a larger question about what really is going to be the future of these Iron Dome batteries," Tom Karako, a missile defense expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Breaking Defense.

Iron Dome, developed in Israel, enhances the Army's capacity to defend against attacks from aircraft, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial systems, and rocket, artillery and mortar fire. IDDS-A is part of the Army's larger air and missile defense modernization strategy.

Each IDDS-A battery consists of approximately 60 soldiers, 13 heavy expanded mobility tactical trucks, six missile-firing units, one radar system, battle management and communications systems, and support equipment.

At this time, the Army does not expect to build additional facilities or training ranges in support of IDDS-A. Based on the PEA's findings, the Army anticipates the environmental impact to be negligible or minor.

The Army has been developing an air defense system for years, but it is not yet ready to deploy. The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 required the Army to deploy an interim missile defense capability while the Army continues to develop an enduring solution. After evaluating existing air defense systems, the Army chose IDDS-A as its interim missile defense capability.

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