U.S. lawmakers are exploring the possibility of moving the Raytheon Iron Dome military defense system from Israel to Ukraine.
On September 2nd, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) approved its version of the fiscal 2022 defense bill. The legislation includes an amendment which would require the Pentagon to submit a report to Congress regarding the possibility of selling “existing systems” to Ukraine. Although the bill, which was passed overwhelmingly by a 57-2 margin, does not contain specifics about this type of weaponry, one Congressional staffer says this language hints at the Army’s Iron Dome defense developed by Raytheon.
“Given the desire and bipartisan recognition that more needs to be done on the integrated air defense front for the Ukrainians, and given some of the administration’s policy decisions towards Ukraine recently, there’s a desire to try and do more to help them than what the Biden team is doing,” the staffer told POLITICO.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran has pointed to the Iron Dome as a possibility for increased air defense, and Ukrainian and Israeli news reports this spring suggested Kyiv was looking to buy Raytheon’s Iron Dome from Israel. The geopolitics of the Iron Dome is a bit tricky: the system was developed by the American defense firm Raytheon in collaboration with Israel, the latter of whom has an agreement with Russia not to sell weapons to Ukraine. Installing the Iron Dome in Ukraine would likely serve as a deterrent against Russia, which in 2014 annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.
Congress‘ total investment in the Iron Dome project exceeds $1 billion.
Rep. Scott Franklin (R-Fla.) introduced the Ukrainian air defense amendment to the 2022 defense bill, which also includes a $25 million increase to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, bringing total U.S. investment in the project to $275 million. The amendment was passed by a bipartisan vote.