US to add $173 million for Israel missile defense

US to add $173 million for Israel missile defense

Armed Services Committee spending bill calls for increases in support for Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow systems

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An Arrow missile fired during a test launch in February 2013. (photo credit: CC BY-US Missile Defense Agency, Flickr)
An Arrow missile fired during a test launch in February 2013. (photo credit: CC BY-US Missile Defense Agency, Flickr)

A defense funding bill for fiscal year 2014 proposed Monday by members of the US House and Senate Armed Services Committees would increase American missile defense spending by some $358 million (NIS 1.25 billion), bringing the total to $9.5 billion (NIS 33.2 billion).

The measure also raises spending on missile defense systems developed between the US and Israel by $173 million (NIS 604 million), Reuters reported.

Funds for missile defense collaboration are separate from the average $3 billion (NIS 10.5 billion) in defense assistance Israel receives from the United States annually .

The bill, details of which were released late Monday, needs to pass a final vote by Congress. Lawmakers called for the vote to take place before Congress heads home for the year.

Funding for several Israeli defense systems will be affected by the legislation.

Israel employs a layered defense system, with Iron Dome covering rocket launches from four to 70 kilometers away and Arrow 2 addressing threats from 300 to 1700 kilometers away. Neither the mid-range David’s Sling, which was successfully tested in November, nor the long-range Arrow 3, are operational yet.

The bill includes nearly $34 million (NIS 119 million) for improving the Arrow system, co-developed by American company Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries. It also calls for $22 million (NIS 77 million) developing Israel’s upper tier interceptor, the Arrow 3. The missile interceptor is designed to deal with nuclear payloads by hitting long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles after they have left the atmosphere, thereby reducing possible fallout from a detonation.

The medium-range David’s Sling system, developed by Rafael and Raytheon for the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency, will see $117.2 million (NIS 409 million) in additional funding.

David’s Sling addresses rocket and mid-range ballistic missile threats, as well as drones and incoming aircraft, and, once operational, will fill a gap between the existing short-range Iron Dome system and the Arrow 2.

The bill also backed US President Barack Obama’s request for $220 million (NIS 768 million) to help Israel buy more Iron Dome batteries. It also included $15 million (NIS 52 million) to create a production facility for the defense system’s parts in the US.

Unlike other missile defense collaborative programs, such as the Arrow, Israel until now has maintained propriety over Iron Dome. A number of lawmakers in Congress have sought to involve the United States in Iron Dome’s development as the US increases funding for the program.

The legislation mandates a report on missile cooperation between the US and Israel.

The bill also calls for a radar to be deployed against the North Korean missile threat, and for potential defensive deployment against Iranian missiles.

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