WASHINGTON — Israel could buy the two U.S. Army-owned Iron Dome air defense batteries sent to the country when the current lease comes to an end next year, Army acquisition chief Doug Bush told reporters in a Nov. 7 briefing.

The U.S. is sending its two Iron Dome batteries to Israel to bolster the 10 it already has as Israel continues to fight Hamas. Air defense is critical as the terrorist group has launched the most massive and deadly coordinated attack in 50 years. Hamas continues to fire rockets from the Gaza Strip.

“It’s a lease for a relatively small amount of money for 11 months,” Bush said of the transaction now underway. “It could become a case where they decide to just keep the systems and pay for them. Or we could come up with some other arrangement at the end of this initial 11-month period depending on factors on the ground.”

The U.S. Army bought the two Iron Dome systems — manufactured by Israeli defense company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and co-developed by RTX — at the request of Congress several years ago. The purchase was meant to fill a gap in cruise missile defense while the Army developed a longer-term countermeasure for various air and missile threats. But the service doesn’t plan to purchase more Iron Domes or to integrate the system into its air defense architecture, Army officials have told Defense News

The service has scarcely used the two batteries at all. Army personnel trained with the Iron Dome systems at Fort Bliss, Texas, before one system deployed to Guam at the end of 2021 for a two-week exercise. Otherwise, the systems have sat with a unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

Bush said the U.S. government used a lease mechanism to move as quickly as possible in getting the Iron Dome systems to Israel. The equipment is now “in transit,” he added, and most of the interceptors have already reached the country.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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