arrow missile 298 88.
(photo credit: Brian Hendler [file])
The US congress approved last week a 600 million dollar assistance package for joint defense projects, in addition to the annual American aid Israel receives.
The main component in the package, which includes several projects that are being developed and manufactured by both countries, is the Arrow anti-missile system. Congress provided 133 million dollars for the arrow, 45 million more than the administration requested for this project. The extra funding will be used to increase the pace of the production of the Arrow components in the US, in order to enable Israel to complete its anti-missile shield.
The Arrow missile is designed to intercept medium and long-range ballistic missiles, which are considered to be Israel's main strategic threat.
Yet this year's appropriation includes also a small sum of 10 million dollars which will be used for the development of a shield against short-range ballistic missile, which are deployed by the Hizbullah along Israel's northen border.
The Arrow is a decade long joint Israeli-American project and it is highly praised by the US defense establishment for its good results in intercepting missiles mid-air. While Arrow missiles are already partly deployed in Israel, the project is still undergoing experiments in order to ensure its effectiveness when faced with missiles such as the Iranian Shihab.
The second joint project funded by congress is the "Lightning" pod, which is used by jet fighter pilots for receiving quick data on targeting and navigation. The system is already used by US pilots and will be further incorporated in the US military in the following years.
The 600 million dollar package also includes funding for armor tiling for Bradley personnel carriers, for aircraft decoy systems and for the Hunter and Pioneer unmanned air vehicles.
"Congress is continuing its strong support for cutting-edge defense programs, which benefit the United States and Israel and strengthen their strategic partnership," said Josh Block, spokesman for the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC, which played a major role in getting the package approved.