Pentagon Requests More Funding for Iron Dome
The Pentagon has requested $220.3 million in 2014 to bolster Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system despite broader cuts to U.S. military spending, AFP reported on Tuesday, citing budget documents.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency also is asking for an additional $175.9 million in fiscal year 2015 for Israel's homegrown missile defense network, according to the agency's budget proposal posted online.
The Pentagon already invested $204 million on the system in 2011 and $70 million in 2012.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel promised former Defense Minister Ehud Barak in March that Washington would continue to fund anti-missile weaponry, including Iron Dome, despite fiscal pressures.
Last week, Israel’s Channel 10 News reported that the planned U.S. budget for the coming year, announced by President Barack Obama, maintains and even increases the American defense aid to Israel.
According to the numbers published, the United States will provide Israel with $3.4 billion in defense aid, a record number. The Iron Dome funding is in addition to this.
During his visit to Israel several weeks ago, Obama made clear that despite a budget crunch in Washington there would be no interruption to funding of Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system.
Obama also said during the visit that Israel and the United States were opening talks on extending U.S. military aid to the Jewish state beyond 2017.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, an Israeli official confirmed to AFP that Hagel is due in Israel for an official visit on April 21, on his first trip to the region since taking over as Pentagon chief.
According to the official, Hagel will be arriving "on Sunday" for "a short working visit." Army Radio reported about the planned visit last week, noting that Hagel will be hosted by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.