For nearly a decade, Raytheon Technologies (NYSE:RTX) has been assisting Israeli defense company Rafael with development and marketing of the latter's Iron Dome missile defense system, used to intercept and destroy incoming drones, cruise missiles, rockets, and mortar and artillery shells. Now, Raytheon will get a chance to help build Iron Dome missiles as well.
On Monday, Raytheon and Rafael announced they're taking their collaboration on Iron Dome to a new level. Forming a new joint venture in the U.S., the two defense companies will jointly produce Iron Dome missiles in the U.S., for sale to the U.S. military and potential foreign allies.
Iron Dome is famed as the missile defense system that Israel used during Hamas attacks against it in conflicts in last 2012, and subsequently. Out of 500-plus hostile missiles launched at Israel from Gaza between Nov. 14 and Nov. 21, 2012, that posed a threat to Israeli population centers, Iron Dome missiles reportedly destroyed 85% of their assigned targets -- meaning the missile defense system could be as much as twice as effective as Raytheon's own Patriot missile system, built in cooperation with Lockheed Martin.
A devised by Rafael, Iron Dome comprises two main parts: a Tamir interceptor missile and a Tamir launcher. The new joint venture will modify this slightly, pairing the Tamir launcher with a SkyHunter interceptor missile instead, described as a "derivative of Tamir."
The U.S. Army is currently reviewing multiple such missile defense systems, with a view to acquiring a new one to supplement its existing Patriots. Today's announcement would appear to suggest Raytheon and Rafael believe they're not just in the running -- but ready to ramp up production when they win.