After multiple attempts at procuring the Israeli missile defense system, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries may benefit from the Iron Dome battery by way of its United States ally.
The United States will soon begin deploying the Israeli-manufactured Iron Dome missile defence system in its bases within Gulf States for the first time, according to an Israeli newspaper.
This comes years after reports initially denied that Saudi Arabia was interested in procuring the Israeli defence system as early as January 2018, to shore up its defenses against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. At the time, regional experts said that Saudi Arabia and Israel shared a common security threat from Iran and their proxies.
In September 2018, a Saudi newspaper reported that Riyadh had signed an agreement to purchase an Iron Dome battery from Israel with the US acting as a mediator. The Israeli defence ministry quickly denied any deal had been signed but did not deny that the Saudis had asked to purchase the system.
In light of the ongoing and recent normalisation accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and two large US arms deals, the situation seems between Israel and the Gulf seems to have changed deeply.
Three weeks ago, Israel delivered its second Iron Dome battery developed by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems to the US Department of Defense in fulfillment of a deal for two Iron Dome batteries signed between the US and Israel in August 2019, reports Haaretz.
"I am certain that the system will help the US army defend American soldiers against ballistic and aerial threats," said Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz at the time of ceremony for delivering the second battery.
Myth of the patriot
The US-Israel deal was not without its controversy. Given that the US is already the owner of cutting-edge missile defence systems for its forces - also widely used by most of its NATO allies - the decision to acquire the Iron Dome System to “fill a short-term need” was found deeply questionable.
More critically, a Congressional investigation found that the Patriot missile’s “combat performance” was often wildly exaggerated. Documented footage of Houthi missile attacks during March 2018 shows a different reality to the Saudi claim of intercepting seven ballistic missiles
Instead, the footage reveals that the Patriot missile system “failed catastrophically”, while at least one Patriot interceptor reversed direction and exploded in Riyadh.
Haaretz reports that Israeli officials do not wish to reveal where the Iron Dome batteries will be deployed, but shared that the US had its consent to place them in the Gulf.
The Haaretz report sheds light on what happened after Saudi Arabia’s initial denied bid for the Iron Dome system. A year after their first bid, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries allegedly sought to procure the Iron Dome system a second time in September 2019, according to defence officials speaking to Haaretz.
The newspaper denied any role played by in the recent spate of normalization agreements between the Gulf and Israel in providing the Iron Dome Systems to the Gulf, albeit via US proxy.
Instead, Israeli-US partnership on the Iron Dome is set to surge ahead, no longer contained to fulfilling a “short-term need”. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Iron Dome’s manufacturer is set to open a production line with defence giant Raytheon Technologies Corp to produce more Iron Dome batteries for the US military and other countries.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. , the Israeli company that developed the system with partners, will open a production line in the US with Massachusetts-based defense contractor Raytheon Technologies Corp.