US pledges record $705 million to Israel's missile defense programs
Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced on Monday that US Congress approved a record-setting $705 million budget for Israel's missile defense programs for 2018.
"I am pleased and excited to announce that the US Congress has approved a record sum for Israel's missile defense program: $705 million in 2018," Liberman said in a statement.
"This is the highest aid budget ever. The money will be used for serial production of Iron Dome interceptors, magic wand and Arrow 3, and for the continued development of the multi-layered defense system against future threats,” he added.
Israel's multi-layered aerial defense systems include a range of systems.
The new Arrow-3 system that intercepts missiles at greater ranges, heights and travelling at faster speeds, and has significantly upgraded the Jewish state’s aerial defense mechanisms in the face of emerging threats.
It is perceived to be one of the most powerful weapons of its kind in the world.
Other tiers include the Iron Dome system for intercepting short-range missiles, ‘David’s Sling’ a medium-range missile defense system and Arrow-2 weapons system for long-range rockets.
“I thank our great friend the United States, which has invested $ 6.5 billion to defend the skies of the State of Israel. We are grateful for the assistance and uncompromising commitment of the administration and Congress to Israel's security," Liberman said of the dramatically increased budget.
In Monday’s announcement of the $705 million in aid to Israel’s missile defense budget, Liberman thanked the developers behind the Iron Dome.
“Thanks also to the American MDA, Homa, and the defense industries, which developed the three wonders of the technology: Arrow 3, a magic wand and an iron dome, which together promise Israeli citizens maximum security against the threat of missiles and rockets.”
The US aid to Israel’s missile defense comes as Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is scheduled to lead a delegation of US Congressmen on a trip to Israel and Jordan.
"There is no greater political accomplishment in the 20th century than the establishment of the State of Israel. Our delegation is pleased to be able to extend the congratulations of the American people to the people of Israel as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Jewish state this spring," Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
Liberman added in his statement that he looks forward to meeting Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the delegation, which only consists of Democrats.
“Tomorrow I will meet in Jerusalem with a delegation of congressmen headed by Israel's friend Nancy Pelosi and thank them personally.”
In 2016, Israel and the United States signed the two countries largest-ever military aid deal, totaling $38 billion for Israel over the next decade.
The hard-fought deal, which had been under negotiation since November 2015, provides Israeli with $38 billion in military aid over the next decade with $5 billion earmarked for the development of missile defense systems.
Then acting head of Israel's National Security Council, Jacob Nagel who signed the agreement on behalf of Israel, said "It’s an unprecedented historic agreement. The US has never signed such a large scale agreement with any other country. This comes amid rough times on the American side as their defense budget is tightening."
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