The US military has reconsidered its plans to buy Israeli Iron Dome air defence systems after facing a number of challenges while studying the first two that they bought.
The Pentagon was planning to spend around $1 billion to buy two more batteries of the system. However, initial tests revealed issues that prevented the Iron Dome from being incorporated into the US Integrated Battle Command System, despite the military initially managing to hook it up to US radars and the Common Aviation Command and Control System during tests in 2019.
"We believe we cannot integrate them into our air defence system based on some interoperability challenges, some cyber challenges and some other challenges", the head of Army Futures Command, General Mike Murray, said during a hearing at the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.
Murray didn't elaborate on the specifics of the challenges, including the one related to interoperability, but according to anonymous sources cited by The Times of Israel, the key problem for the US military was that Israel had refused to provide the source code for the Iron Dome’s software. This, in turn, reportedly prevented the Pentagon from reprogramming it to make it compatible with the American systems.
Now the US military is stuck with two Iron Domes that have already been bought but can't be used to help American troops repel cruise missile attacks and cover this area of the Pentagon's Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2-Intercept programme.
"So what we’ve ended up having was two stand-alone batteries that will be very capable but they cannot be integrated into our air defence system", Murray explained.
Now the US is looking for a replacement for the Israeli Iron Domes elsewhere. According to General Murray, a "shoot-off" will be organised for both the US and foreign countries' defence industries in order to fill the gap in the programme by 2023.