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China Daily Website

Pentagon backs expanding Israel's Iron Dome

Updated: 2012-03-28 06:51
( Xinhua)

WASHINGTON - US Defense Department on Tuesday said it supports expanding Israel's anti-rocket defense system Iron Dome, and is to ask Congress for money to install more such systems.

In a statement, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said supporting the security of Israel is a "top priority" of President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and the Pentagon intends to "request an appropriate level of funding from Congress" to support acquisition of additional Iron Dome systems "based on Israeli requirements and production capacity".

Little said the short-range rocket and mortar defense system "played a critical role in Israel's security" during the rocket attacks earlier this month. When nearly 300 rockets and mortars were fired at southern Israel this month, Iron Dome intercepted over 80 percent of the targets it engaged.

Previously, the United States has provided 205 million dollars in support of Israel's acquisition of Iron Dome system in 2011.

Congressman Steve Rothman, a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said in a statement that he is "pleased to see that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Obama Administration understand the importance of and remain committed to funding the life-saving rocket defense program, Iron Dome."

Rothman, a Democrat, said as a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, he will continue to work with colleagues to "robustly fund Iron Dome".

Obama's budget for next year calls for 3.1 billion in military assistance for Israel, slightly above the current level and the most for any foreign country.

It is unclear how much the Pentagon intends to ask for Iron Dome, but US media reports cited congressional aides as saying a possible request would be the purchase of 10 battery systems at a cost of 50 million each.