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Congress Appropriates $235 Million For Israeli Iron Dome Procurement

[caption id="attachment_127" align="alignleft" width="214"] Rafael's Iron Dome missile defense system. Photo: Rafael[/caption] The fiscal year 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama January 17, provides $235 million for Israel to procure the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats. The bill says of the $4.2 billion appropriated for defense-wide procurement and $17.1 billion for defense-wide research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E); $504 million shall be for the Israeli Cooperative Programs, in which the U.S. and Israel work together to help Israel develop and improve its indigenous capability to defend against short and medium range ballistic missiles. Iron Dome funding comes from the $504 million for Israeli Cooperative Programs. Of the $235 million provided for Iron Dome, $15 million is for non-recurring engineering costs in connection with the establishment of a capacity for co-production by U.S. industry in the U.S. of Iron Dome parts and components. Roughly $150 million is for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program, including cruise missile defense research and development (R&D) and $15 million from the SRBMD allocation would be production activities of SRBMD missiles in the U.S. and Israel to meet Israel’s defense requirements. Nearly $75 million is appropriated for an upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture with $44 million for the Arrow System Improvement program, including development of a long range and ground and airborne detection suite. Iron Dome, developed by Rafael, counters short range rockets and 155 mm artillery shell threats with ranges of up to 70 km. It is comprised of a mobile detection and tracking radar, a mobile battle management and control center and a mobile missile firing unit. The FY ’14 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) restricts Missile Defense Agency (MDA) funding of Iron Dome co-production to no more than $15 million (Defense Daily, Dec. 17). Andrew Krepinevich, president of the influential Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) think tank in Washington, said last year the United States’ contribution to Iron Dome deserves budget scrutiny because the system costs too much to operate compared to cheap incoming missiles it defends against. Krepinevich said, for example, Hamas is firing rockets that cost around a few thousand dollars each while the Iron Dome defense system costs about $50 million (Defense Daily, Feb. 14).