Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have agreed to invest millions of dollars in the Iron Dome anti-missile weapon for Israel, as long as the United States can acquire the development rights to the weapon system, The Hill reported.
Members of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee reportedly elected to set aside $680 million to assist Israel in buying the Iron Dome weapon in its version of the fiscal 2013 defense spending bill, according to the report.
In 2011, Congress approved approximately $200 million for Iron Dome buys, which US and Israeli officials claim has been vital in defending Israeli territory from short-range rocket and mortar attacks fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
In March alone, the three Iron Dome systems deployed in southern Israel successfully intercepted 80 percent of the 300 rockets and mortars fired into the country from Gaza, Defense Department spokesman George Little said on March 27.
Subcommittee members stated that the system "proven very effective" in protecting Israel's southern borders in their portion of the House defense bill.
The funding would work to "ensure long-term cooperation" between the United States and Israel on Iron Dome development, according to members.
However, before the United States allocates the funds, House members want Missile Defense Agency chief Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly to "ensure the United States has appropriate rights to this technology," The Hill reported.
According to the subcommittee’s legislation, while the United States has invested nearly $900 million into Iron Dome work, to date it “has no right to the technology involved."
The House proposal would share rights to the weapon's proprietary technology "as is consistent with prior U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation," according to the subcommittee.
In addition the Department of Defense and O'Reilly "should explore any opportunity to enter into co-production of the Iron Dome system with Israel, in light of the significant U.S. investment in this system," stated the panel's draft bill.