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Pentagon backs expanding Israel's Iron Dome

United States America,Defence/Security, Wed, 28 Mar 2012 IANS

Washington, March 28 (IANS) The US has said it supports expanding Israel's anti-rocket defence system Iron Dome, and is to ask Congress for money to install more such systems.

 

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Tuesday supporting the security of Israel is a "top priority" of President Barack Obama and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

 

The Pentagon intends to "request an appropriate level of funding from Congress" to support acquisition of additional Iron Dome systems "based on Israeli requirements and production capacity", Xinhua quoted him as saying.

 

The short-range rocket and mortar defence system "played a critical role in Israel's security" during the rocket attacks earlier this month, Little said in a statement.

 

Nearly 300 rockets and mortars were fired at southern Israel this month, Iron Dome intercepted over 80 percent of the targets it engaged.

 

Previously, the US has provided $205 million in support of Israel's acquisition of Iron Dome system in 2011.

 

Congressman Steve Rothman, a member of the House Appropriations Defence Subcommittee, said in a statement that he is pleased to see that defence secretary and the Obama administration "understand the importance of and remain committed to funding the life-saving rocket defense program, Iron Dome".

 

Rothman, a Democrat, said as a member of the subcommittee, he will continue to work with colleagues to "robustly fund Iron Dome".

 

Obama's budget for next year calls for $3.1 billion in military assistance for Israel, slightly above the current level and the most for any foreign country.

 

It is unclear how much the Pentagon intends to ask for Iron Dome, but US media reports cited congressional aides as saying a possible request would be the purchase of 10 battery systems at a cost of $50 million each.

 


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