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Israel seeks multi-year US missile defense aid

April 4, 2012 22:10

Defense official says Israel looking for multi-year budget program which will not require annual administration approval.

Iron Dome fires interceptor rocket south of Ashdod

Iron Dome 370. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Israel is in talks with the US about increasing its financial aid for Israeli missile defense programs and establishing a multi-year budget program which will not require annual administration approval.

Israel receives an estimated $3 billion annually from the US under a 10-year memorandum of understanding signed in 2007.

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The administration and Congress have also allocated additional funds to help finance Israel’s development and procurement of missile defense systems like the Arrow, which defends against ballistic missiles, and the Iron Dome, which protects Israel from short-range rockets.

“We are trying to reach an agreement with the US that will spread out over a number of years,” a senior defense official said on Wednesday.

Last month, the Pentagon said it would request additional funds for Israel’s Iron Dome budget. The US previously approved a $205 million infusion for Iron Dome systems, though it is unclear whether that amount would be matched in the new budget cycle.

Under Israel’s new request, it is seeking about $1 billion in aid from the US which it plans to use to speed up the procurement of additional Iron Dome batteries as well as the development of David’s Sling, the system that Israel plans to use to defend against medium-range rockets.

Israel has three functioning Iron Dome batteries and plans to deploy a fourth in the coming weeks. The three that are operational succeeded in intercepting some 60 rockets during the recent round of violence with Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip last month.

Defense officials said on Wednesday that Israel’s talks with the Obama administration regarding the new funding would likely be completed within the coming months.

According to different estimates, Israel is expected to request $700 million to purchase four additional Iron Dome batteries and to speed up the development of David’s Sling, and another $300 million for the purchase of Tamir interceptors, used by the Iron Dome.

The IDF says that it will need around 13 batteries to provide adequate protection from Hezbollah and Hamas’s shortrange Katyusha rockets.

“These discussions are taking place despite the budget problems that the Americans are having and should not be taken for granted,” another official said.
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