Pentagon approves massive $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel
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Pentagon approves massive $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel

US says thousands of missiles and bombs to be provided for self-defense needs; Congress must okay deal

Illustrative photo of Hellfire missiles (photo credit: CC BY-Wikipedia)
Illustrative photo of Hellfire missiles (photo credit: CC BY-Wikipedia)

The US State Department indicated it will approve an arms sale to Israel worth nearly $1.9 billion, adding thousands of bombs, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles to Jerusalem’s armory for “self-defense” needs.

The details of the possible sale were sent for congressional review this week after being approved by the Pentagon, the US Department of Defense said in a statement Tuesday.

If the agreement is finalized, Israel will receive a supply of precision-guided munitions consisting of 750 bunker buster bombs, 3,000 Hellfire missiles, 250 medium-range air-to-air missiles and 4,100 glide bombs, in a deal worth $1.879 billion.

In addition, the package includes 14,500 missile guidance systems — known as tail kits for Joint Direct Attack Munitions — which convert unguided bombs into GPS guided missiles.

A shipment of these weapons will enhance Israel’s military capabilities and boost defense cooperation between Israel and the US, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which coordinates major arms deals, said in a statement.

“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” the statement read.

According to the agency, Israel requested the sale, which only includes types of weapons Israel already has.

“The proposed sale of this equipment will provide Israel the ability to support its self-defense needs. These munitions will enable Israel to maintain operational capability of its existing systems and will enhance Israel’s interoperability with the United States,” the statement read.

It’s not clear if the sale is intended to replenish Israeli arms stocks diminished during the summer war with Gaza.

The Israeli Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a Times of Israel request for comment.

A Defense Ministry source told Israel Radio the deal had nothing to do with Iran nuclear talks or any other conflict in the Gulf region.

A report in Israeli media Tuesday indicated the US and Israel were discussing a so-called compensation package that would see Washington sell Jerusalem advanced weapons, including more F-35 jets, in exchange for the Netanyahu government’s quiet acceptance of the emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

A previous package of precision guided missiles worth $647 million was sent by the US to Israel in December 2012, according to Defense News. That deal however contained smaller quantities of munitions.

Israel receives $3 billion per year in US military aid, most of which must be spent on American-made arms.

Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee approved $474 million for Israel’s anti-missile systems.

Included in the US-Israel cooperative missile defense funds is $41.4 million for the short-range Iron Dome rocket defense system, $165 million for David’s Sling, another short-range system, and the longer-range Arrow-3 missile defense programs, as well as $267.6 million in research and development funds.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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