U.S. Mulls Defense Cuts to Israel

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Citing budgetary constraints, the U.S. Congress may decrease its support of the Arrow 3 ballistic missile defense system being developed in Israel.

The same constraints may hamper the sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jets to Israel.

"Due to the economic crisis in the U.S., they are cutting budgets and want to allocate some funds toward purely American projects that better suit the U.S.'s needs," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said following a Saturday evening meeting with a delegation of congressmen and senators.

"We are trying to convince them to continue funding the Arrow, or rather the 'Super Arrow,' so we can complete its development," Barak said.

The Arrow 3, an upgrade of the Arrow 2 now used by the Israel Air Force, is designed solely to intercept incoming ballistic missiles.

According to YNet news, Congress is considering substituting the SM-3 standard missile in its place.

The SM-3 is used by the U.S. Navy to protect its warships from missiles, aircraft and other ships.

Some Israeli defense officials called the Arrow 3 "crucial to Israel's existence" in view of the expanding Iranian nuclear program.

The Israeli Aerospace Industries IAI has been working on expanding the Arrow 3's capabilities to intercept ballistic missiles launched at altitudes higher than 100 kilometers (about 60,000 feet).

The Arrow 3 missiles cost between $1.5 - $2 million, while the SM-3 missiles cost between $10 and $12 million per unit.

Congress may also curtail the development and sale of the F-35 jet fighters, though the U.S. already agreed to sell 25 of them to Israel, with an option to purchase another 50, a deal estimated at more than $15 billion.

Source: YNet news

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