The U.S. government’s cash crunch has forced Israel to reduce the number of Iron Dome missile interceptors it employs, a senior Israeli official told Reuters.
The Iron Dome system has received generous funding from Congress in past years, and President Obama has assured the Jewish state that it will receive all the money it needs to continue the program—despite proposing to reduce funds to similar missile defense programs in its 2013 budget.
Israel says that it will expand the reach of its Iron Dome system to compensate for the reduction.
But a senior Israeli official said that full deployment could be reduced thanks to planned advances in Iron Dome, which uses small radar-guided missiles to blow up Katyusha-style rockets with ranges of between 5 km (3 miles) and 70 km (45 miles), as well as mortar bombs, in mid-air.
The official, who briefed a small group of journalists on condition of anonymity, predicted an increased interception range of up to 250 km, as well as more flexible aiming of Iron Dome units, which cost around $50 million each.
“You could post it in the Dan region (greater Tel Aviv area) and it would have enough range in either direction, both north and south,” the official said, referring to Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Gaza, territories where Islamist guerrillas have sizeable rocket arsenals.