The Army said Friday it has activated two air defense artillery batteries at Fort Bliss in Texas that will evaluate the new Iron Dome system from Israel for potential integration into the service’s air and missile defense architecture.

The new units are tasked with training on Iron Dome over the next year and working on integration of the system with the future Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS), as the Army prepares to field the first interim capability by late 2021.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries.

“This interim stationing decision will support critical test, evaluation and integration activities, which are prerequisites to any future deployment or stationing decision,” Army officials wrote in a statement. “Once Iron Dome reaches an operational deployment capability, the Army will make a final stationing decision of where and how to employ the capability through either a forward stationing decision and/or the Dynamic Force Employment concept in response to contingency operations.”

In late September, the Army began receiving the first Iron Dome battery from Israel, which will head for further testing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico near where the units will be stationed at Fort Bliss (Defense Daily, Sept. 30). 

The Army signed a deal with Israel manufacturer Rafael in August 2019 for two Iron Dome batteries per a directive in the fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill to acquire the system as an interim cruise missile defense system while it continues pursuing a long-term Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC).

Army officials, however, have previously said the system is currently unable to integrate with IBCS, which is being built by Northrop Grumman (Defense Daily, March 12). 

The Army is holding a “shoot-off” in the spring to find an enduring IFPC capability, which will include the ability to integrate with IBCS as a key requirement.