U.S. air defense systems are now active in Iraq following threats from Iranian-backed insurgents. The Patriot batteries will protect against long-range threats while the Army’s C-RAM system will be used to counter rockets and mortar. The more sophisticated Avenger air system will handle low-flying missiles and aircraft like drones and helicopters. Lolita Baldor of the Associated Press writes:
New air defense systems are now protecting American and allied forces at military bases in Iraq where troops have been attacked by Iranian-backed insurgents in recent months, according to U.S. officials.
Patriot missile launchers and two other short-range systems are now in place at al-Asad Air Base, where Iran carried out a massive ballistic missile attack against U.S. and coalition troops in January, and at the military base in Irbil, said officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive weapons movement. A short-range rocket defense system was installed at Camp Taji.
The military has been gradually moving the defensive systems into Iraq over the last few months to provide more protection for troops that have seen a series of rocket and missile attacks.
Soon after Iran launched a massive ballistic missile assault against troops at al-Asad in January, questions were raised about the lack of air defense systems at the bases. But it has taken time to overcome tensions and negotiate with Iraqi leaders, and to also locate defense systems that could be shifted into Iraq. Prior to the missile attacks, U.S. military leaders did not believe the systems were needed there, more than in other locations around the world where such strikes are more frequent.
The systems are now operational, as top U.S. officials warn that threats from Iranian proxy groups continue.
Avenger Air Defense System:
Patriot Missile System:
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