US to give $680 mn for Israel's anti-missile system
Jerusalem, May 14 (IANS) The US is expected to announce the allocation of $680 million for Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defence system, a media report said.
Citing the Israel Hayom daily report, Xinhua said the fund will enable Israel to procure 10 batteries for the system, which will join the four it already deploys against intermittent rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.
The fund is part of a $947-million aid package the US is slated to provide for bolstering Israel's missile and rocket defence in 2012.
US Congressman Steve Rothman, a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, announced last week that the aid package has been approved in principle.
"This funding level is the highest ever appropriated in a single year for these life-saving systems and shows how vitally important they are for our nation's national security and that of our key ally -- Israel," Xinhua quoted Rothman as saying in a statement.
In another statement, the Pentagon said Israel's security was a "top priority" and that it would request funding to support the procurement of additional systems "based on Israeli requirements and production capacity".
The US Congress has previously allotted $205 million for the acquisition of the Iron Dome for the Israel Air Force, which operates the system.
It is due to receive next year the "Magic Wand", a system designed to intercept medium-range rockets.
Developed by the state-owned Rafael Advanced Systems Ltd., the Iron Dome was designed to shoot down rockets with ranges of 5-70 km.
The system's radar calculates the trajectory of incoming projectiles and disregards those that do not pose a risk of hitting populated areas.
In March, the system successfully intercepted nearly 90 percent of the rockets fired by Gaza militants towards southern Israel. It was declared operational in March 2011.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to travel to Washington this week, where US President Barack Obama is expected to publicly announce the approval of the fund for Iron Dome, the Israel Hayom daily said.
Barak has praised the US administration, saying Israel "has reached a remarkable level of coordination with the Pentagon and Congress".
He said the US administration "deeply supports Israel", but "that does not mean that we don't have differences regarding other issues, including Iran and the peace process".
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