A U.S. House of Representatives bill envisages increased military assistance to Ukraine through the transfer of new missile defense systems, including potentially sending an Iron Dome battery currently being operated by the U.S. Army.
That's according to a Politico article titled "The U.S. Army's Iron Dome could be headed to Ukraine."
"Included in the House Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal 2022 defense policy bill is an amendment requiring the Pentagon to submit a report to Congress outlining options for potentially selling or transferring 'existing systems' to Ukraine that are likely not going to be deployed in the near-term," the article reads.
According to Politico, the Ukraine air defense amendment, in fact, "would pressure the Biden administration to sell or transfer new air and missile defense systems to Ukraine, including potentially sending an Iron Dome battery currently being operated by the U.S. Army." The amendment was introduced by Rep. Scott Franklin (R-Fla.) and passed by a bipartisan vote.
The HASC's version of the fiscal 2022 defense bill that was approved on September 2 by a 57-2 margin doesn't specify any particular weapons system to hand over to the Ukrainians. But one congressional staffer said the language about transferring current systems is telling, and that the Army's two Iron Dome batteries are prime candidates because there are few relevant systems the Army possesses that could defeat the threat Ukraine faces from Russia.
"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," said the staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the bill is still pending on the House floor.
However, there are questions about the efficacy of a limited Iron Dome system in Ukraine.
“Tactically it would not be effective at short range, or on the line of contact, because this system would be shot out very quickly by Russian multiple-launch rocket systems," said Michael Kofman, director of the Russia Studies program at the CNA think tank. "But it may be able to intercept longer range rockets, which could allow the battery to defend a critical site or command center" in eastern Ukraine.
According to the article, the U.S. doesn't have much in the way of excess air and missile defense batteries ready to be transferred. But the Army has been trying to figure out how to operate two Iron Dome systems Congress ordered it to purchase in 2019 as a stopgap for delayed efforts by the service to get its own new air and missile defense systems up and running.
According to Politico, since being deployed in Israel in 2011, the system, built by the Israeli defense company Rafael in partnership with Raytheon, has proven itself one of the world’s most effective killers of short-range missiles. The Israeli military has said Iron Dome has knocked down about 90 percent of missiles fired into Israel over the past several years.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Andrii Taran said in May that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry was considering purchasing a missile defense system similar to Israel's Iron Dome.