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Monday, September 15, 2008

U.S. to sell Israel 'bunker-busters' bombs that could be used in Iran strike

WASHINGTON — The United States has approved the sale of anti-armor and air bombs to Israel's military.

Officials said the administration approved Israeli requests first raised after the Lebanon war in 2006, Middle East Newsline reported. The State Dept. initially opposed the sale fearing an Israeli attack on Iran, according to a report in the Aug. 21 editions of

Officials said the administration decided to approve the GBU-39 sale after months of delay that stemmed from concern that Israel would use the bunker-busters against Iran. The GBU-39, with a 23-kilogram warhead, was designed to penetrate more than 1.8 meters of reinforced concrete.

"It is vital to the U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability," the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said. "This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives."

On Sept. 9, the agency notified Congress of plans to sell the M72A7 Light Anti-Armor Weapon to Israel. The proposed deal, estimated at $89 million, would bolster Israel's light anti-armor capability.

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"The proposed sale will enhance the foreign policy and national security objectives of the U.S. by providing the Israeli government with a lightweight assault rocket that will enable Israel to maintain its operational capability, and provide greater mission flexibility to deter aggression in the region," the agency said. "Israel will have no difficulty absorbing this weapon capability into its armed forces."

Israel has requested 28,000 M72A7 66 mm LAAW systems as well as 60,000 M72AS 21 mm sub-caliber training rockets. The prime contractor was identified as Talley Defense, based in Mesa, Arizona.

The Pentagon was also preparing to sell the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb to Israel. In a sale valued at $77 million, Israel could receive 1,000 GBU-39s as well as mounting carriages, vehicles and weapons simulators.

Officials said the Israel Air Force has already deployed the GBU-39, acquired in wake of the Israeli war in Lebanon. The prime contractor was identified as Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

"Implementation of this proposed sale will involve multiple trips to Israel by U.S. government and contractor representatives for one-week intervals, for approximately three years," DSCA said.

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