US To Increase Aid To Israeli Defense Systems

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill allocating $500 million towards joint defense efforts with Israel, including a short-range ballistic anti-missile defense system.<BR><br/>

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Debbie Berman, | updated: 22:34

The bill, approved by the House on Thursday as part of the US defense appropriations bill, was well received by Israeli defense officials. The approved package will be paid to Israel in addition to the annual Israeli military aid package from the U.S., totaling $2.36 billion.

The congressional legislation doubled the amount initially requested by the Bush administration, $268 million, emphasizing the need for enhanced joint military efforts by the United States and Israel.

Josh Block, spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), explained how the package reflected America's continued support for the development of its collaborative defense projects with Israel. “Congress is continuing its strong support for cutting-edge defense programs, which benefit both the United States and Israel, and strengthen their strategic partnership, " Block stated.

The package is comprised of funding for a variety of joint Israeli-American security projects including the following:

-The Arrow anti-missile system, allocated $135 million, designed to provide Israel protection from medium and long-range missile attacks.

-LITENING airborne targeting pod, allocated $35.5 million, to be used by the Israeli and U.S. Air Forces for precision targeting.

-Upgrading the Hunter and Pioneer UAV, allocated $36 million.