Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in Washington this week to accept a package of nearly $1 billion in aid from the United States for the development and building of missile defense systems in Israel. Included in the package is $680 million for developing and building Iron Dome systems and about $280 million for developing other defense systems. This new military aid package was authorized by the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee last week.
The initial funding for Iron Dome was taken on solely by Israel out of a dire need to find new ways to protect its citizens from incoming missiles. Subsequently, the United States began to assist financially. Two years ago, the United States approved a budget for 2011 that included $205 million in unconditional funding to accelerate the development and deployment of Iron Dome batteries. Last year, Israeli Major General Udi Shani announced Israel’s plans to invest $1 billion into the Iron Dome system on top of the $205 million from the United States.
As Iron Dome’s components are expensive, Israel plans to increase the system’s cost efficiency by extending its interception range from 70 km to 250 km and by increasing the flexibility of the units’ aim. With these two new characteristics, less overall units would be necessary to achieve the same results. In addition, unlike the $205 million given last year, the new aid package is tied to conditions. In reciprocation for the new funding, the United States is asking Israel for rights to Iron Dome’s technology and to transfer part of its production to U.S. companies.
This new aid package is beneficial for both parties. For the U.S., access to some of the best missile defense technology in the world will likely prove to be extraordinarily helpful in protecting its soldiers stationed abroad, its allies, and maybe even its citizens at home in the future. For Israel, the additional financial resources will assist in developing and deploying new Iron Dome systems so that a larger percentage of the population is protected against rocket attacks. Currently, the Iron Dome is intercepting about 80% of all rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. With the increase in financial resources, the system can only be improved.