The US delivered the first Iron Dome interceptors to Israel.

The Pentagon has transferred to Israel the first missiles from US inventories for the Iron Dome air defense system intended to intercept Hamas rockets, according to a US defense official.

The initial Tamir interceptors — owned by the US military but located in Israel — will be followed by more from US inventories elsewhere to ensure Israel has the ability to maintain its air defense systems, said the official, who requested anonymity to speak of matters that are not public.

The official declined to say why the US had stockpiles of the interceptor in Israel or where the additional ones are currently located. The missiles are manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Israel with components from RTX Corp Made in Arizona.

The initial transfer highlighted the speed with which the US military moved to resupply Israel. After a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said the US would send the weapons.

Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel as part of its assault on Saturday, some of the largest barrages ever mounted against the Iron Dome systems deployed to protect the country.

A missile battery of three or four launchers and radar can defend nearly 60 square miles. The batteries are mobile, and by mid-2021, Israel had ten of them deployed across the country, according to US military contractor Raytheon Technologies, RTX’s predecessor, which in 2014 began co-producing Iron Dome with Rafael.

The US Army established two Iron Dome batteries several years ago, now at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. The service has received about 312 interceptors, according to internal figures reported to congressional staff.

If they were sent, “that’s a not insignificant number of Tamirs, not to mention other Iron Dome elements, that the Army could theoretically provide to Israel to help,” said Thomas Karako, a missile defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and Strategic Studies. International that has followed the adoption of the system by the Army. “The threat is in the thousands, yes, but every interceptor matters,” he said.

On the other hand, the Marine Corps announced in August its intention to acquire up to 1,840 Tamir interceptors and 44 launchers for air defense. They have not been delivered yet.

Each Tamir missile costs between $40,000 and $50,000, according to a researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.

Tony Capaccio