PM to ask US for new military platforms, funding

Prime minister also seeks to tie up loose ends on several IDF requests for new military platforms.

olmert poser 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
olmert poser 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to use his trip in Washington, DC this week to tie up some loose ends on several requests by the IDF for new military platforms as well as funding for defense-related projects, officials said Monday. One issue is the continued funding of the Arrow missile defense system. Israel is seeking close to $150 million to fund the project. If approved in Congress by October, the Arrow 3 project would be fully budgeted for 2009 and could be declared operational within a year. Development has already begun at Israel Aerospace Industries. The defense establishment and the Homa Missile Defense Agency decided in April to press forward with the development and production of the Arrow 3, a more advanced version - in terms of speed, range and altitude - of the version (Arrow 2) currently in use by the IDF. Olmert is scheduled to meet with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and key senators and congressmen at the Capital. The talks there, officials said, will be instrumental in securing Congress's continued support for the Arrow, and possibly additional Israeli defense projects - including Iron Dome, which is being developed to counter Kassam rockets. In another measure aimed primarily at Iran, Israel is asking for US permission to hook up directly to a global satellite system that detects missile launches anywhere in the world, rather than receiving the information second-hand from the US, officials said. Israel has connected to the radar system in the past - during the First Gulf War in 1991 and ahead of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Top Israeli defense delegations have traveled to the US in recent months for talks in the White House and the Pentagon regarding a number of Israeli requests for advanced military platforms. One request has centered on the F-22 - a stealth bomber currently operational in the US - which came up during recent talks in Washington. Israel has asked to be allowed to acquire the jet in light of Iran's suspected attempts to build a nuclear weapon. The F-22 can avoid radar detection and is today the world's most advanced fighter jet. Sale of the F-22 is currently banned by Congress and it is possible that in talks with Bush as well as with congressmen, Olmert will seek their support for lifting the ban. AP contributed to the report.