US gives Israeli missile R&D $155.5m.

Funding represents $20m. boost, including $37m. for co-production of long-range interceptor.

Arrow launch 2007 298.88 (photo credit: IAI)
Arrow launch 2007 298.88
(photo credit: IAI)
Congress approved late Thursday $155.5 million for production and development of Israel missile defense programs as well as several multi-million-dollar purchases of Israeli military equipment. The funds are part of a $471 billion defense appropriations bill for the Pentagon's 2008 budget which US President George W. Bush is expected to sign. The spending for the Arrow represents a $20 million boost from last year, and was boosted by both the House and Senate just more than double Bush's original request for the program. The Arrow funding includes $37 million for US-Israel co-production of the Arrow long-range missile interceptor and $61 million for further development, as well as another $37 million for the shorter-range David's Sling project. An additional $20 will be used for preliminary development of a higher altitude Arrow system. In addition, Congress allocated money to buy several Israeli technologies currently being used by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The provisions include $39.6 million for the Israeli-designed LITENING targeting and navigation sensor system to enhance aircraft navigation and strike capability, $36.5 million for Hunter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and $3.5 million for missile guiding helmets for fighter pilots, according to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which tracks the spending. AIPAC spokesman Josh Block welcomed the spending bill as "another strong vote of confidence from Congress and the administration" for programs that "benefit both the United States and Israel, strengthening our strategic partnership and helping to enhance the safety, security and efficacy of American troops currently serving overseas." An Israeli official also praised the bill as "another reflection of strong Congressional support for Israel and recognition of the importance that Israel be able to defend itself from missile threats." The defense appropriations come in addition to the $2.4 billion in military assistance Israel will receive in 2008 as part of America's foreign aid expenditures.