Congress okays joint project funding

$460 million slated for Israeli-American defense programs.

By NATHAN GUTTMAN
September 30, 2006 20:55
1 minute read.
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The US Congress approved an increase of $460 million in funding for joint Israeli-American defense programs over the weekend, including $20 million for the development of a short-range ballistic missile defense system which will provide protection from Katyusha rockets. The funding, approved as part of the defense appropriations bill, is double the amount the administration initially requested for joint projects. It is not part of the foreign aid package which Israel receives annually. The main component of the funding package is the Arrow anti-missile system, which will receive $135 million for coproduction of the system components in the US and for developing improvements. The Arrow, which is intended to provide protection from medium- and long-range missiles, is gaining special importance due to Iran's threats to attack Israel and its known missile capabilities. The bill will also provide funding for the Litening targeting and navigation pod, an Israeli development which increases the striking ability of aircraft. According to sources in the US, this system is being used successfully by the US in Iraq for targeting and attack missions. Two unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) projects, the Hunter and the Pioneer, were funded with $35m. Congress also gave final approval to a previous decision to provide $137m. for special tiles to protect Bradley armored fighting vehicles against anti-tank missiles. The increased funding is seen as a major achievement for Israel. Josh Block, spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said that "Congress is continuing its strong support for cutting-edge defense programs, which benefit both the United States and Israel and strengthen their strategic partnership."

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