Photo: AP/Ariel Schalit
The Pentagon wants to increase funding for Israel’s missile-defence shield, the Iron Dome. Congress already granted $205 million last year, but the defence Department wants to support Israel even more.
Andrea Shalal-Esa at Reuters reports Pentagon spokesman George Little says supporting Israel’s security is a top priority of President Obama and defence Secretary Leon Panetta.
Each Iron Dome battery costs about $50 million, while estimates of each interceptor rocket loaded onto the system are from $35,000 to $50,000.
The Iron Dome Support Act is the bill that will go before Congress with the hope of deploying more Iron Dome batteries.
Critics say that’s too much to spend when incoming rockets from Gaza are worth just about $1000 each. But supporters say the Iron Dome is a “game changer”. Representative Howard Berman, author of the new bill, says “Iron Dome is fundamentally shifting political, diplomatic and military realities on the ground.”
The reality is Washington is concerned Israel will initiate a strike against Iran to disrupt its nuclear program, sparking a rocket-fuelled conflict, or worse.
Nathan Hodge at the Wall Street Journal says the Iron Dome is only a piece of a layered defensive system.
There’s also the David’s Sling ballistic defence that “stuns” incoming missiles. The name is a throwback to the biblical Jewish boy-turned-king who defeated a hell-bent giant by slinging a rock into his face, stunning him, and saving his people — sending a clear message to Israel’s modern-day adversaries. It was developed by Israeli contractor Rafael (makers of the Iron Dome) and Raytheon of the U.S. Israel also has the Patriot missile system, used by the U.S. and its allies.
Photo: RP defence blog
In another demonstration of U.S.-Israel defence partnerships, Boeing’s Arrow II system was developed hand-in-hand with Israel and is designed to counter Iran’s long-range missiles. Approaching Congress to approve the funding, the defence Department points out that the Iron Dome intercepted about 240 out of 300 rockets launched by Palestinian militants from Gaza this month.
The short-range interceptor can destroy incoming targets, but recently suffered technical failures that broke down system batteries as rockets landed in a couple southern Israel towns. But those malfunctions are not enough to dissuade the Pentagon that the Iron Dome has an effective success rate.
Reuters reports President Barack Obama is eager to show support for Israel’s defence needs, particularly in an election year.
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