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Tuesday, May 25, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Obama ends ban on offensive weapons to Israel: 'Smart' systems for 'dumb' bombs

WASHINGTON — The administration of President Barack Obama has approved the first delivery of U.S. offensive weapons to Israel.


Industry sources said the administration has enabled the delivery of the Joint Direct Attack Munition to Israel. JDAM systems provide "smart" delivery of otherwise unguided or "dumb" weapons. They said the first JDAM shipment approved by the White House arrived in Israel in April 2010.

"Israel has been waiting for this order for a while," an industry source said.

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In July 2009, the administration approved a contract for Boeing to produce and supply more than 100 JDAMs to Israel, Middle East Newsline reported. The sources said the JDAM shipment was delayed by administrative procedures as well as a crisis between Israel and the United States regarding Jewish construction in Jerusalem.

The Israel Air Force has used JDAM to convert general purpose bombs into precision munitions. JDAM was first deployed by Israeli F-16 multi-role fighters during the war against Hizbullah in 2006.

The administration has also been delaying the shipment of other offensive systems to Israel. This included the delivery of the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, approved by President George W. Bush in 2008.

The sources said the Obama administration has approved the first delivery of GBU-39 to Israel. They said the bombs, meant for deployment on Israel's fleet of F-15 fighter-jets were expected to arrive in the Jewish state by 2011.

Since he began office in January 2009, Obama has refused to approve major Israeli weapons requests. The sources cited Israeli requests for the AH-64D Apache attack helicopter, the new F-15 stealth fighter-jet, bunker-busters, air refueling systems and advanced reconnaissance equipment.

In May 2010, however, the Defense Department approved a $20 million contract for the upgrading of an Israeli armored personnel carrier deployed in the war against Hamas in January 2009. Under the contract, U.S. military aid could be used to enhance the engine of Israel's Achzarit heavy APC, based on the Soviet-origin T-55 main battle tank.

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