Obama gets OK on boosting Israel against rockets

* Anti-missile system part of $726 bln defense bill

* Hamas, Hezbollah rocket attacks prompted development

By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON, May 28 (BestGrowthStock) – The U.S. House of
Representatives approved President Barack Obama’s request for
$205 million to spur Israel’s production of a system to counter
short-range rockets of the type used by Hamas and Hezbollah.

The authorization for the extra funding was part of a
defense spending bill that would provide $726 billion next year
for U.S. national defense programs, including funding for the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House gave the bill final
passage on Friday by a vote of 229 to 186.

The Senate Armed Services Committee likewise voted to
provide $205 million for the Israeli system, known as “Iron
Dome,” panel chairman Carl Levin told reporters on Friday.
Levin said he hoped his committee’s bill would reach the Senate
floor before the July 4 Independence Day recess.

A congressional staff member said the request for the
funding “seems to have come directly from the commander in
chief,” Obama. It was not entirely clear what prompted it.

Produced by Israeli state-owned Rafael Advanced Defence
Systems Ltd., Iron Dome uses small radar-guided missiles to
blow up Katyusha-style rockets with ranges of between 3 miles
and 45 miles (5-70 km), as well as mortar bombs, in mid-air.

Its development was spurred by the 2006 conflict in Lebanon
with Hezbollah, and the Gaza Strip war against Hamas a year
ago. In both cases, Israeli towns within reach of short-range
rockets were in some ways defenseless.

A White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said earlier this
month Obama recognized “the threat missiles and rockets fired
by Hamas and Hezbollah pose to Israelis.”

As a result, he decided to seek funding from Congress to
support the production of the Iron Dome system, Vietor said.

Two Iron Dome batteries are under construction, an Israeli
defense official said in February. Designed to be towed by
vehicle, they will be available for any Israeli front at a few
hours’ notice.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has three initiatives
with Israel to boost its home-grown capability to defend
against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

The so-called David’s Sling Weapon System is for
short-range defense; the Arrow Weapons System targets
medium-range missiles; and the Arrow-3 interceptor is an
upper-tier system under development.

The United States is also developing interoperability
between the U.S. ballistic missile defense system and the
Israeli architecture to make sure Israeli systems can be
stitched in to a global umbrella.

In addition, the Obama administration is working toward a
Middle East missile defense that envisions adding an advanced
radar site in a Gulf state to one already in Israel to thwart
any Iranian attack, U.S. officials have told Reuters.

The House voted to authorize $10.3 billion for ballistic
missile defenses overall, $361.6 million more than Obama’s
request. The extra funds will strengthen defenses against “the
most immediate threats from nations such as Iran and North
Korea,” said Rep. James Langevin, the Strategic Forces
subcommittee chairman.

Stock Research
(Reporting by Jim Wolf; editing by Todd Eastham)

Obama gets OK on boosting Israel against rockets