The Washington Post quoted a Republican congressional aide speaking on condition of anonymity as saying that the House Armed Services Committee will propose an increase of $680 million in funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system when it convenes to formulate the 2013 fiscal year’s defense budget.
The $680 million would be in addition to the special budgetary request of $205 million granted in 2011 by the Obama administration and Congress. The aide said the amount was based on the system’s present capabilities, as well as those of Hamas and Hizbollah.
The Republican-controlled panel’s proposal is seen as an election-year challenge to President Obama to reveal the true extent of his dedication to Israel’s security. Although the Pentagon last month said it was planning to ask Congress to provide additional funds for the missile defense system, the panel’s proposal will force the Obama administration to determine and divulge the level of financial support it believes the Iron Dome warrants.
At the time, the Pentagon did not go into specifics and released a statement saying that “[t]he Department of Defense has been in conversations with the Government of Israel about U.S. support for the acquisition of additional Iron Dome systems and intends to request an appropriate level of funding from Congress to support such acquisitions based on Israeli requirements and production capacity.”
The cost of one Iron Dome battery is $50 million, while each missile costs over $60,000. There are currently four operational and actively deployed Iron Dome batteries, three in the south of Israel and one in the central region. Last month, Ambassador to the US Michael Oren wrote an article in which he stated that “at least ten Iron Dome systems will be necessary in order to defend the whole country.”