US Congress c'ttee proposes $1b for Israeli missile defense

The proposal will boost US military aid for Israel in 2013 to a record $4 billion.

The US House of Representatives Defense Appropriations Subcommittee yesterday approved almost $1 billion for Israel's anti-missile defense programs - the Arrow 3, upgrading the current Arrow system, David's Sling, and Iron Dome. The total appropriation is the highest ever approved for the four programs, and reflects not only US Representatives' consistent support for Israel, but also rising concern about the Israel-Iran confrontation, which is liable to expose Israel to missile strikes from Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas.

The House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee is due to vote on the draft bill today, which will include $948,736,000 for Israel's missile defense programs for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins in October. This money is separate from the $3.1 billion in annual military aid for Israel for 2013. If the proposal passes, Israel will receive a record total of $4 billion in military aid in the next fiscal year.

The US aid for Israel's missile defense programs is part of the US defense appropriations. The items in the House bill includes $74,692,000 for the "upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture" - the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile (which can intercept missiles in space, above the reach of the Arrow 2). Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd's (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) Malam Division is developing the missile.

The House subcommittee also approved $44,365,000 for the Arrow System Improvement Program, including development of a long range, ground and airborne, detection suite.

The House subcommittee approved $149,679,000 for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program (David's Sling), including cruise missile defense R&D under this program, of which $15,000,000 is for production of missiles in the US and Israel to meet Israel’s defense requirements. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) are jointly developing David's Sling.

The House subcommittee approved $268.7 million for these three programs, compared with $235 million they are receiving in the 2012 fiscal year.

The Iron Dome program will receive $680 million. This appropriation is in addition to the $205 million appropriated for the program in the US defense budget for the 2011 fiscal year.

The substantial increase in US aid for the Iron Dome was expected, after the Pentagon announced in March that it would work with Congress to fund deployment of the system. "Supporting the security of the state of Israel is a top priority of President Obama and Secretary Panetta,” said the Pentagon in a statement at the time. “The Department of Defense has been in conversations with the government of Israel about US support for the acquisition of additional Iron Dome systems and intends to request an appropriate level of funding from Congress to support such acquisitions based on Israeli requirements and production capacity."

Israel's Ambassador to the US Michael Oren stressed the urgency of the funding in an op-ed piece in "Politico" on March 18, in which he concluded. "We remain committed to resolving the conflict based on the principle of two states for two people. But until that is achieved, we have no choice but to rely on both our defensive and offensive capabilities. For America, as well as for Israel, an investment in the Iron Dome system is an investment in diplomacy - helping to create the conditions conducive to peace."

The Republicans control the House of Representatives. The Democrat-controlled Senate is ignoring bills initiated by the House, letting them die in committee. However, there is no disagreement between the two houses of Congress when it comes to aid for Israel.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 8, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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