On Sunday, haaretz.com reported that due to budget woes, the Israeli Air Force may ground a number of its warplanes and "stop the production of the Iron Dome and David Sling missile interception systems in 2012".
The Israeli Air Force in due to take these steps in view of discrepancies between its plans and its allocated defence budget for 2012, even though "last month the [Israeli] government backtracked on its intention to cut NIS 3 billion from the defence budget."
The newspaper added that, "despite succeeding in averting a drastic budget cut, the IDF's financial woes are far from over. Last year saw the end of the military's years-long budget plan, known as "Tefen," with 2012 scheduled to launch a new five-year plan – "Halamish," postponed from 2011 over the social protests."
The budget has a deficit of NIS 7 million, caused by "the discrepancies carried over from the 'Tefen' program, along with funds allocated for … the rushed construction of the barrier along the border with Egypt, have created a deficit of NIS 7 million. After a recent government addition of NIS 1.8 billion in defence funds, and an IDF-initiated NIS 1.5 billion cut, the military is still missing NIS 3.7 million compared to its projected budget."
This is the first time in 20 years that the Israeli Air Force has disabled parts of its forces, and is quite a surprising step to take given the continuous Israeli statements on a possible military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities this year.
Haaretz also reported that top Israeli military officials are concerned because "measures include an almost total halt to acquisitions by Israel's military industry, which would put a halt to Rafael's Iron Dome production line, despite the fact that the U.S. gave Israel $205 million to finance four more batteries."
"Budget issues will also have to side-line the development of the David Sling system, geared at targeting longer-range missiles. The acquisition of Merkava 4 Battle Tanks, planned for 2013, will also be postponed," the newspaper added.
"A top military official told Haaretz that the planned measures could severely injure the IDF's war readiness, adding that the "government is aware of the gravity of the situation, however our demands to reduce budget discrepancies have not as yet been answered.'"