The latest conflict in the Middle East has given Israel’s Iron Dome a lot of attention from the global media. It is the world’s first missile defense system with the capability to counter short-range rockets and artillery shells, allowing Israel to halt most rocket attacks from Hamas.

The system may seem unrelated to U.S. contracting, but in fact offers one example of how U.S. defense contractors are learning from and applying their work abroad.

The system is operated and managed by Israeli state-owned manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, known as RADS. Israel Aerospace Industries’ Elta unit created the complementary radar that tracks and monitors rockets.

U.S. defense firm Raytheon has been a RADS Iron Dome partner since 2009, which has helped it — and the U.S. government — build up knowledge and capabilities related to missile defense.

Raytheon has earned $30.2 million from RADS and Israel for its help in developing the related David’s Sling system, designed to intercept medium- to long-range rockets and missiles.

David’s Sling improves on Iron Dome with its ability to combat large-caliber rockets, an enhancement that has drawn interest from contractors around the world as well as the U.S. military.

Raytheon has won more than $900 million in Pentagon contracts to track, monitor and test the multi-mission interceptor used in David’s Sling — known as the Stunner — and work on new warfare technology for Israeli defense.

The company also earned a $79.2 million U.S. contract for a technology known as the Accelerated Improve Intercept Initiative, while U.S. defense firm Northrop Grumman received $132 million to install the systems at bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The intercept initiative technology will be able to serve as a launcher, fire control system and command and control system.

While making use of Iron Dome technology, the U.S. military is looking ahead to the next advancements in missile defense, including laser beams.

Contractors hoping to work with the U.S. military, and particularly on missile defense, should be clear about their core competencies, open to teaming agreements on a global scale and have the clearances and ability to obtain the necessary credentials for future opportunities.

Many opportunities also exist internationally; for instance, Singapore, South Korea and NATO are among the entities interested in tapping Iron Dome technology through Raytheon.

Rachel Doherty is manager for federal defense information services and government community liaison at Deltek, which conducts research on the government contracting market and can be found at