The latest Israeli missile defense request comes amid a policy by the
Obama administration to deny offensive weapons to the Jewish state. Over the
last 16 months, Obama has either rejected or withheld approval for Israeli
procurement or upgrades of such platforms as attack helicopters. Israel has
received $2.55 billion in defense aid in 2010.
Officials said the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has
approved $205 million for the Israeli procurement of at least 10 Iron Dome
batteries. They said the U.S. assistance for the Israeli-origin Iron Dome
short-range missile and rocket defense system would be secured over the next
few weeks in talks by visiting Israeli Defense Ministry director-general Udi
"The United States and our ally Israel share many of the same security
challenges, from combating terrorism to confronting the threat posed by
Iran's nuclear-weapons program," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said on
May 13. "The president recognizes the threat missiles and rockets fired by
Hamas and Hizbullah pose to Israelis."
In April, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak discussed missile and
rocket defense with the administration. Officials said Barak asked Defense
Secretary Robert Gates for U.S. help to bolster the Jewish state's
multi-layered rocket and defense system with funds for development and
"Not a week goes by when there is no security-related interaction
[between Israel and the United States]," Israeli Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.
Gen. Benny Gantz said.
One proposal stipulated U.S. funding for Israel to produce and procure
Iron Dome, scheduled for initial deployment in mid-2010. The Israeli Finance
Ministry has allocated funding for two Iron Dome systems, but the military
has set a requirement for another dozen batteries for protection of northern
and southern Israel from Hamas and Hizbullah missiles and rockets.
"This funding will expand what they can produce and deploy, and how
quickly they're able to do it," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said on May
The Pentagon has been lobbied by at least one U.S. defense major for
joint production of Iron Dome. The U.S. company was identified as Raytheon,
the leading U.S. missile producer and Israel's partner in the David's Sling
tactical missile defense system.
"The ideal would be a project that would produce Iron Dome for both the
U.S. and Israeli militaries, with the prospect of upgrades, but the
Americans are not interested in acquiring Iron Dome," the official said.
In April 2010, the administration approved the launch of the first major
military project for Israel under Obama. The Pentagon awarded Lockheed
Martin a $98 million contract for one C-130J air transport to Israel. The
Israeli request was approved by then-President George W. Bush in mid-2008.
On May 17, the Pentagon awarded its second defense contract for Israel
under the Obama administration. The $20 million contract called for an
engine upgrade of an Israeli armored personnel carrier that had been
deployed in the 2009 war in the Gaza Strip.
"This [U.S. refusal to supply weapons to Israel] will become a major
problem over the next few months," another official said.