TEL AVIV, Israel — Two U.S.-Israeli industrial teams working on jointly funded missile defense programs are ramping up production of three distinct interceptors that collectively defend against an entire spectrum of threats, from short-range rockets to Iran’s most advanced, medium-range ballistic missiles.
Intercepting missiles for all three heavily U.S.-funded missile defense programs — Arrow-3, David’s Sling and Iron Dome — are being built in large part in the United States through a network of prime partners, subcontractors and suppliers that extend across more than 30 of the 50 U.S. states.
“In accordance with congressional mandates and our government-to-government agreements, each one of these [intercepting systems] is being produed at least 50 percent in the United States,” Moshe Patel, director of the Defense Ministry’s Israel Missile Defense Organization, told Defense News.
“It’s not just prime contractors, but a vast network of subcontractors spread out over a large part of the United States of America,” Patel said.
According to Patel, U.S.-based work on all three interceptor programs is transitioning from low-rate initial production, or LRIP, to full-rate production. “We’re in the final phases of LRIP for all these systems; and we’re very proud of the amazing cooperation at the government-to-government and at the industry-to-industry levels,” Patel said.
In the case of Arrow-3, where state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries is partnered with Boeing, the U.S. supply chain extends across more than 20 states, said Boaz Levy, IAI executive vice president and general manager of the firm’s Systems, Missiles and Space Group.
“Significant parts of this high-performance missile designed to intercept targets deep into space are being produced in the United States. More than 20 states are involved in the production of Arrow-3,” Levy said of the interceptor that forms the uppermost layer of Israel’s multilayered active defense network.
In the case of the joint U.S.-Israel David’s Sling Weapon System, whose Stunner interceptor is the fruit of collaboration between state-owned Rafael and Raytheon, some 50 percent of missile components are being built in the U.S., according to Rafael Executive Vice President Pini Yungman, head of the firm’s Air Superiority Systems Division.
“We’re almost finished with LRIP, and we already signed a contract for full-rate production with Raytheon,” he said. “Our U.S. partner is doing great work with production; in fact, they’re running faster than we are in transitioning to full-rate builds.”
Yungman noted that Raytheon is not only managing a far-flung network of subcontractors and suppliers, but it is actively marketing the Stunner for approved U.S. allies in an arrangement whereby Rafael serves as subcontractor to its U.S. partner. Under the brand name SkyCeptor, the Stunner interceptor is slated to be part of Poland’s Patriot active defense system.
Warsaw recently sent a letter of request to the U.S. government to procure the hit-to-kill intercepting missile as part of its medium-range air defense Wisla system; and a contract is to be negotiated directly between the U.S. and Polish governments.
“We’re proud to serve as subcontractor to Raytheon in this SkyCeptor program, which integrates the Stunner into the Patriot system for Poland,” Yungman said. “This partnership with Raytheon that we’ve been working on and investing in for almost 12 years is becoming real. We’re seeing it start to translate into real contracts and big business. We’ll provide to Raytheon, Raytheon will provide to the U.S. Army and it’s a win-win for all concerned.”
Raytheon and Rafael are also partnered on U.S.-based production of the Tamir intercepting missile, part of Israel’s internationally known and combat-proven Iron Dome — an Israeli-developed system that has been generously funded by Washington. According to Yungman, about 75 percent of components for the Iron Dome intercepting missile — some 55 percent of the U.S.-funded production budget — is being built in the United States by 27 different American vendors.
“Raytheon is delivering all the subassemblies to us from around the United States. The Iron Dome interceptor is 75 percent made in the U.S.,” he said. ”It’s almost an American interceptor.”
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.