Maryland-Based Company Produces Radars for Israel’s Iron Dome

Radar equipment for Israel's Iron Dome
Radar equipment for Israel’s Iron Dome (Courtesy of Joe Adams)

ELTA North America, a U.S. defense company based in Annapolis Junction, was awarded a $30 million contract to produce radars for Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

The production contract, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, is delivering ELM-2084 multimission radars to Israel.

The Maryland/Israel Development Center helped bring about the contract by providing connections and other resources to ELTA North America, said David Speer, executive director of MIDC, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore.

The contract with ELTA North America is “extremely significant because the Iron Dome and particularly the radars are being made right here in Maryland,” Speer said. “They are helping to save innocent Israeli lives every day in hard-hit areas.”

The Iron Dome system is a cutting-edge missile defense system developed by Israel to provide protection against short-range rockets and artillery shells.

Since its deployment in 2011, Israel has been heavily reliant on the Iron Dome system to detect incoming rockets in attacks by Hamas and then fire missiles to intercept them. The Iron Dome has an interception range of 43 miles.

Estimating the trajectory of an incoming threat, the system determines whether or not an interception is required, and if so, detonates the target in the air with a 90% success rate.

The system only intercepts an incoming rocket if it is deemed a critical threat. An interceptor with a special warhead detonates any target in the air within seconds.

The cost of launching a missile from the Iron Dome at a threatening rocket has been reported to cost anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000. The rockets fired by terror groups at Israel are estimated to cost between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

The Hamas attack on Oct. 7 and subsequent war against Hamas created a demand for more systems to be used in the ongoing conflict, said Joe Adams, president and CEO of ELTA North America.

The Iron Dome system reportedly failed on Oct. 7 when Hamas fired several thousand missiles, and Israel had less than a thousand interceptors ready.

“The need for homeland survivability and missile defense is critical now more than ever,” Adams said. “For the first time, this battle-proven air defense radar system will be produced in the United States, leveraging our existing manufacturing and integration capability.”

The radar detects threats in the air, and the system neutralizes the threat, said Adams, whose company is a subsidiary of Israeli ELTA Systems in Ashdod, Israel. “The Iron Dome system has been highly effective in protecting the people of Israel. Just to be a part of that, the design and assembly of the system and then providing it back to Israel demonstrates our partnership with Israel in their defense needs.”

The Iron Dome, considered to be a game changer in modern warfare, was created by Israeli contractors RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, with some U.S. support. RAFAEL USA, which is based in Montgomery County, has partnered with defense contractor Raytheon to produce the Iron Dome system in the U.S.

The MIDC also helped RAFAEL USA with business connections that brought about its contract for the Iron Dome system.

“The MIDC has always been very good at connecting us with the resources and the right people,” Adams said. “They have been very critical in helping get the word out.”

MIDC is a nonprofit “public-private partnership” of the Maryland Department of Commerce, Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Trade, and The Associated to promote bilateral trade and economic development.

“We’ve had a longstanding and very strong relationship with ELTA North America, and we’re particularly proud of this new initiative,” Speer said.

The assistance started in 2010 when ELTA Israel Systems was looking for a U.S. headquarters.

“We are promoting Maryland as the best place for Israeli companies to open up their U.S. headquarters,” Speer said. “More than 40 Israeli companies call Maryland their home.”

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