US legislators seek $110m. increase for Israeli-American missile defense systems

Proposal more than doubles $106m. budgeted
for 2012 by Obama administration

Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., together with their US partners Boeing Co. and Raytheon Co., may benefit from a US House proposal to more than double the funding next year for US-Israeli missile defense technology.

Senior members of the House Armed Services Committee are proposing increasing by $110 million the Obama administration’s request for $106.1 million in 2012 for David’s Sling, the Arrow anti-missile defense system and Arrow-3 high-altitude missile defense technology.

The committee this week is writing the 2012 defense authorization bill, which will set military policy and funding targets for the fiscal year starting October 1.

The leaders of the panel’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee – Representatives Michael Turner, an Ohio Republican, and Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat – are proposing the $216.1 million total for the missile defense systems, which are designed to protect against threats from Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Islamic militant group that is on the US State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The House defense panel does not specify how much of the additional money will go to either the Arrow Weapon System or David’s Sling. The director of the US Missile Defense Agency will allocate the money at his discretion, according to committee report language that will be included in the House’s 2012 defense authorization bill.

The administration’s budget request for Israeli missile defense in 2012 is $103.8 million less than the funding approved by Congress for the current fiscal year.

For 2012, the Missile Defense Agency is requesting $11.8 million for improvements to the Arrow Weapon System, $53.2 million for continued development of the Arrow-3 interceptor and $41.1 million for continued development of the David’s Sling Weapon System, according to committee report language.

Lawmakers said they were concerned that the administration’s request for next year is not sufficient for allowing the first battery of David’s Sling to be delivered in 2012, according to the prepared committee report language. They also said that the money requested by the Missile Defense Agency wasn’t enough to complete the development and testing of upgrades to the Arrow system, or to accelerate the development of the Arrow-3 interceptor.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon are jointly developing the David’s Sling Weapon System, designed to shield Israel from short-range ballistic missiles, large-caliber rockets and slow-flying cruise missiles, such as those possessed by Hezbollah that are fired at ranges from 40 kilometers to 300 kilometers, according to a 2010 Congressional Research Service study on US aid to Israel.

David’s Sling is designed to counter the inexpensive and easily produced short-range missiles and rockets used during Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon. It will also advance low-altitude intercept technology and provide that technology to those in the US and Israeli industry, according to a September 27, 2010, Missile Defense Agency press release announcing the project agreement.

Raytheon is working with Rafael’s missile division on the development of the system’s “Stunner” interceptor, which is designed to detect and home in on targets in any weather.

Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing have been developing the Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 systems, which are part of the Arrow Weapon System, Israel’s national missile defense program. Arrow is designed to defend against medium-range ballistic missiles such as those possessed by Iran.

The US and Israel have cooperated on missile defense since 1986. The two countries also participate in joint missile defense exercises and tests.

Source: Bloomberg

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