For well over the past decade, Israel has been terrorized by indiscriminate rocket fire from Hamas, Hezbollah and other neighboring terrorist entities.
Thousands of rockets aimed at schools, nursing homes and city centers within Israel have killed or injured hundreds of innocent Israelis.
Over 50,000 rockets are pointed at Israel at any given time, not including chemical weapons from Syria or intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) from an Iran on the brink of nuclearization.
To address this increasingly sophisticated and aggressive threat, the United States and Israel are co-producing a multi-tier missile defense apparatus capable of intercepting virtually any rocket or missile. This unprecedented joint venture will save lives, prevent further conflict escalation, create American jobs and pay dividends far into the future.
Until 2011, one of Israel’s greatest security challenges was the rocket bombardment of southern Israel by Hamas. A blaring siren afforded the citizens of Sderot and other cities along the Gaza border just 15 seconds to take shelter.
And then came Iron Dome, a short-range rocket interceptor developed by Israel and deployed with the help of US funding. During Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, Iron Dome interdicted 500 Hamas rockets with a success rate of nearly 85 percent, shielding innocent Israelis and likely averting a full-blown war.
Iron Dome is a game changer, but it’s just the beginning.
Cheap, unsophisticated rockets from Hamas are becoming a thing of the past as Iran and its proxies continue to develop more advanced medium- and longrange missiles. And these dangers are not exclusive to Israel. Many brave Americans serving overseas have been killed by enemy projectiles, including three of the last US troop casualties from the Iraq War, who were killed by a rocket from a Hezbollah affiliate. Moreover, just last month the Pentagon reported that Iran may possess ICBMs capable of reaching the east coast of the United States by 2015.
In response, the US and Israel are co-producing two revolutionary systems – David’s Sling and Arrow 3. David’s Sling will be able to intercept short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, long-range rockets, and cruise missiles.
The program’s missile firing unit and interceptor – the Stunner – are being developed and manufactured in the US, and the system achieved its first interception in November 2012.
The next generation of the Arrow Weapon System – a medium-range ballistic missile interceptor operational since 2000 – Arrow 3 is an exo-atmospheric interceptor designed to catch missiles at high altitude to minimize leakage from chemical or nuclear warheads. Arrow 3 completed its second successful flight test last month with an expected on-time deployment in the near future.
To further this strategic imperative for the US and Israel, we’ve joined together to introduce H.R. 2717, the bipartisan United States-Israel Missile Defense Cooperation Act of 2013, which authorizes further assistance and cooperation for these critical systems. This legislation underscores the mutually beneficial joint venture of developing these cooperative programs with Israel and helps ensure their continued inclusion in future authorization bills.
Republicans and Democrats agree that an investment in US-Israel missile defense cooperation is an investment in peace and security.
We must continue to work with our allies on these types of programs in an effort to stay one step ahead of our enemies in order to minimize national security threats and work toward a peaceful, safe future.
Congressman Peter J. Roskam (R-Illinois-06) serves as chief deputy majority whip and co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus. Congressman Theodore E. Deutch (D-Florida- 22) is the ranking member of the subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.