The Tamir missile factory for the Iron Dome system will be built in Arkansas as the Israel-Hamas war increases demand for this type of ammunition.
Since the conflict broke out on October 7, the Hamas group in the Gaza Strip has launched many rockets toward Israeli territory, estimated at hundreds of them per day, forcing the Iron Dome air defense system to fire to attack continuously. This caused the stockpile of Tamir missiles used for Israel’s Iron Dome system to dry up gradually.
Faced with the above situation, President Joe Biden’s administration announced that it would transfer 200 Tamir missiles in stock to Israel and, at the same time, lease two Iron Dome batteries that the US owns to Tel Aviv.
American defense contractor RTX Corp and Israel’s Rafael Group also announced on October 26 that they will build a missile production facility in East Camden, Arkansas. This factory will produce Tamir missile ammunition for Israel’s Iron Dome system and the US version of SpyHunter.
The project is expected to start construction later this year and begin production in 2025, aiming to provide Tamir missiles to the US Marine Corps as well as the militaries of allied countries.
Rafael Group developed the Iron Dome air defense system, which is a central component of Israel’s multi-layered defense network. A complete Iron Dome complex includes 3-4 launchers, each equipped with 20 Tamir interceptor missiles and surveillance and guidance radar, control and combat management systems.
Much of the Iron Dome system’s operations are automated to shorten response times and reduce operating manpower requirements. This is one of the world’s most battle-tested air defense systems, estimated to have successfully intercepted thousands of rockets since its deployment in 2011.
US Army in 2019 signed an agreement to purchase two Iron Dome batteries from Israel to strengthen Guam’s defense capacity in the event of a large-scale conflict in the region. The two batteries were handed over to Washington by Tel Aviv in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
This force then decided not to buy more Iron Dome to switch to Enduring Shield, an air defense system developed by domestic corporation Leidos. The Pentagon considers this weapon to be more suitable for operations in the Pacific because it can better intercept high-speed, long-range cruise missiles.
Enduring Shield is still in the testing process and is expected to begin being delivered to the US Army from the end of this year.
The US Army’s cessation of investment in the Iron Dome system has affected the supporting industry for this weapon. Rafael Group and RTX 2020 announced a plan to cooperate in building a Tamir missile assembly factory in the US but later canceled it.
However, the war between Israel and Hamas once again showed the need and effectiveness of the Iron Dome, prompting the US to pay more attention and invest in this air defense system.
Experts say it will take many months for the US to re-expand the production line of Iron Dome bullets. However, Washington also has some advantages, such as Tamir missiles using domestically manufactured engines and not having problems supplying components like Javelin missiles and other advanced guided weapons that the US provides aid to Ukraine.
Another advantage is that the US RTX corporation is still responsible for manufacturing 70% of the Tamir missile’s components.
Increasing the production of Tamir missiles could also serve the interests of the US military. According to budget documents, the country’s Marine Corps plans to purchase three batteries and nearly 2,000 Tamir missiles to integrate into the Medium Range Interceptor Capability (MIRC) air defense system.