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22 September, 2021
“Iron Dome” from the United States: generous help or a disservice?
Ukraine may receive new Israeli-designed Iron Dome missile defence systems from the United States, according to Politico, and the U.S. Congress has amended the draft defence budget for 2022.

Our partners probably not only want to help us, but also intend to give away a system that they objectively no longer need. After all, from the very beginning, the United States viewed the Iron Dome purchase as a temporary solution. Washington bought the equipment from Israel in 2019 in order to create its own system that would address the existing shortcomings. It was planned to be used in Afghanistan to protect unit locations from individual strikes. With the withdrawal of American troops, the need for the immediate deployment of these systems disappeared.
The United States is now developing its own system with more operational capabilities. And it is very likely that this year or next year, the Enduring Shield system of American design and production, with much better tactical and technical characteristics than the Israeli system, will be adopted.

In light of this, the U.S. government may agree to the transfer of two “extra” missile batteries to Ukraine. But it is important to understand that such a step will mean significant costs and certain difficulties for Ukraine.

Transferring the Iron Dome will require Israel’s consent. And components for this system will also have to be purchased in Israel, requiring expensive and long-term contracts.

The Iron Dome battery includes a combat control point, an EL / M2084 radar station, and 2-3 launchers with 20 interceptor missiles each. Although the Tamir interceptor missiles are a joint product of Israel and the United States, the rest of the equipment will have to be negotiated with Israel.
It should be noted that Israel is unlikely to want to transfer high-tech military technology to Ukraine and thus risk ruining relations with Russia. Moscow has a significant influence on Syria and Iran, and this is a matter of security for Israel itself.
At the same time, this missile defence system is tactical, so it solves only a narrow range of tasks. It is designed to intercept unguided missiles of volley fire (“Hail” or similar).

The Iron Dome is only part of Israel’s echeloned missile defence system and provides near-line interception. Israel is effectively using these systems to counter terrorist threats from the Palestinian territories. But it took more than ten years to reach the current level of interception of hundreds of missiles.

If Ukraine does receive these systems from the United States, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine will demonstrate that its activities are guided by political motives, while real expediency and capacity take a back seat. The money spent will not have the desired effect in the long run. There could be a one-time agreement with the United States for this type of armament, but Israel is the manufacturer of the Iron Dome.

In addition, the Iron Dome does not address air defence issues. Theoretically, any system can be used to solve uncharacteristic problems, but then the question of efficiency arises. In the face of modern threats to Ukraine, the priority is to build systems to protect the territory from air strikes, rather than from individual attacks by tactical unguided missiles.

For example, the Strong Shield mobile ground air defence system can hit multiple targets simultaneously and is fully integrated into the U.S. Army’s air and missile defence control systems. This year, its developer, Dynetics, held a hands-on demonstration with the U.S. Department of Defense. This confirmed the information that it is participating in the U.S. Army’s tender to supply systems for protection against various threats from the air. The developers have taken into account all the shortcomings inherent in the Iron Dome and other similar systems. The modularity of the American system makes it possible to use different interceptor missile models without losing the stated tactical and technical characteristics.

In this situation, it is most expedient to negotiate and conclude an agreement with an American manufacturer of similar weapons. This would address the issue of integration into NATO air defence systems and logistics, and open up prospects for cooperation between arms manufacturers in Ukraine and their American counterparts.
 
Oleksandr Saienko,
Reserve Colonel, Military Expert Analyst, Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (NAKO) 
For "Ukrayinska Pravda"