The American military has successfully tested a missile used in Israel's Iron Dome to intercept an unmanned drone, as the US considers purchasing the defence system. The Iron Dome is a mobile all-weather air defence system that is designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells.
Washington is considering purchasing the system which has not yet been sold to any foreign militaries – despite reported interest from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes countries such as Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The defence system, which has been in operation since 2011, successfully destroyed an unmanned drone during a test in the New Mexico desert carried out by Israeli and American defence contractors. During the test Tamir missiles, fired from the Iron Dome system, were fired from the army's new Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) to destroy the drone at White Sands Missile Range.
The lauded Iron Dome system was jointly developed and funded by Israeli state-owned firm Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and Raytheon systems. The test was conducted using Tamir missiles made by Raytheon, a major American defence contractor, and the world's largest producer of guided missiles.
The Iron Dome is credited by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) with shooting down over 700 rockets fired from Gaza aimed at Israeli towns and cities. The IDF say that the Iron Dome has a "kill ratio" of around 90 per cent of the total rockets fired, taking into account may rockets that fell in uninhabited areas of Israel.
Israel is wary of the threat of drones fired by Hezbollah and Hamas and the defence system has proved effective at destroying these as well after Rafael tested the system against unmanned aircraft last year. Raytheon and Rafael are also jointly developing the Stunner missile that will be used in Israel's medium-range David's Sling, or Magic Wand missile defence system.
The Iron Dome is said to be effective in all weather conditions, including low clouds, rain, dust storms and fog and a single launcher can protect a medium-size city. In September 2014, Raytheon were awarded a contract worth $149m (£103m) to provide products to the IDF.