The Israeli government is asking Congress to significantly increase the amount of funding it receives for joint missile defense programs under President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget, contradicting administration claims that it has fully satisfied the Jewish state’s defense needs.
The Obama administration requested $96.8 million for these joint U.S.-Israeli defense programs in its 2015 budget, a nearly $200 million reduction in funds compared to the final version of last year’s budget.
Lawmakers have criticized Obama in recent days for not fully backing these Israeli Cooperative Programs, which include key missile defense systems such as Israel’s Iron Dome, Arrow II, Arrow III, and David’s Sling.
While the Pentagon has claimed that Obama’s request fully satisfies the Jewish state’s defense needs, Israeli government documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon show that this may not be the case.
The Israeli government has asked Congress to provide $173 million above the president’s budget request for the Cooperative Programs, according to documents sent to the House Armed Services Committee by the Israeli government’s Missile Defense Organization (IMDO).
Israel is also asking for an additional $176 million for the Iron Dome system above Obama’s budget request, according to the document.
David’s Sling (DSWS), an anti-ballistic missile system that is currently being perfected, is slated to receive $32.5 million under the president’s budget. The Israeli government has requested Congress provide an additional $105.4 to ensure that the system stays on track.
"In order to continue the full scale development of the DSWS program including initial production activities and to ensure IOC is achieved on time, a FY15 congressional plus up of $105.4 M is required, beyond the $32.5 M requested by the administration," the document states.
A similar request is being made for another anti-ballistic missile system known as Arrow III, which is "to be accelerated in order to cope with the evolving unconventional threat from Iran," according to the Israeli government document.
While "the DOD has requested for FY15 $52.6M [for the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor Program], an additional $22.1 M plus up is required to continue the full scale development and support the initial production towards IOC," the document states.
An additional $45.5 million is being requested by the Israelis "support completion of the [Arrow Weapon System] Block 4 enhancements … [and] to meet the evolving threat, as well as the development of Upper Tier capabilities, including long range, ground and airborne, detection suite," the document states.
The Israeli government is also asking congressional appropriators to add funds for the Iron Dome system, which also is slated to receive less funding than in past years due to the winding down of a three-year agreement with the United States.
Iron Dome (IDWS), which, is in the final year of a $660 million allocation that went to funding the joint program, will need an additional $176 million so that the Israelis can purchase more of these system to combat a rising terror threat, according to the Israeli government document.
These additional funds will help Israel "respond to the operational needs and to supply additional IDWS batteries and interceptors," according to the document.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told House lawmakers on Thursday that tighter defense budgets have forced his hand on a range of issues.
"On the missile defense with Israel, I probably speak as much with the defense minister of Israel, [Moshe Ya’alon], as any one defense minister," Hagel said in response to questions from lawmakers. "The commitment we made to the missile defense systems in Israel remains very clear. They’re in the budget—Iron Dome, David’s Sling."
"I’d like to have more money in my budget," Hagel said. "But I don’t think there’s any equivocation in your question about our commitment to those systems."
Lawmakers have criticized the Obama administration in recent days over the missile defense funding issue.
"These cooperative programs save lives, prevent conflict escalation, and are a joint financial and technological venture between the United States and Israel," Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), the House’s chief deputy whip, told the Washington Free Beacon on Thursday. "They are the first line of defense against the thousands of rockets pointed at Israel at any given moment."
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), has also been at the forefront of the funding dispute.
"This is very disappointing and it is irresponsible to cut funding to a steadfast ally in an extremely volatile region of the world," Lamborn told the Free Beacon on Wednesday.
The Pentagon has defended the president’s budget request for these missile defense programs
"Throughout the development of these critical missile defense systems, our goal has been to ensure that U.S. investments meet Israel’s security and their production capacity," Carl Woog, an assistant press secretary at the Pentagon, told the Free Beacon on Wednesday.
Other supporters of the White House’s budget have pointed out that it is not out of the norm for Congress to increase the president’s request on this issue, as was also the case under the George W. Bush administration.