At a time of serious economic crisis in America, the US government has allocated $220 million to Israel for its “Iron Dome” missile defence system. Documents linked to the US Department of Defence budget, reviewed by Agence France Presse yesterday, reveal that the US allocation will be made in the 2014 fiscal year despite budget cuts. Moreover, the Department of Defence, which spent $204 million in 2011 and $70 million in 2012 on Iron Dome, also wants to allocate an additional $167 million in the 2015 fiscal year.
Recently-appointed Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel promised the former Israeli Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak, last month that Washington would continue to fund Israel’s anti-missile systems, including Iron Dome, despite America’s severe budget constraints. The US Senate, dominated by Republicans, approved the funding of the Iron Dome system in March 2012 for up to $680 million.
Each Iron Dome battery has radar to detect and track aircraft, as well as control software and three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptor missiles. According to an American newspaper, the system is capable of intercepting missiles at a range of 4 to 70 kilometres. The system proved particularly effective during the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip in November last year. About 1,500 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip and the system, which is only used when a populated area is at risk, thwarted 421 of the rockets but missed 58; its success rate is thus 84 per cent, reported the New York Times.
US military aid to Israel amounts to $3 billion a year, and, according to US law, aims to provide Israel with a “qualitative military edge” over other countries in the region.