Due to budget cuts, Israel is postponing the fielding of a new missile defense system designed to counter mid-range ballistic threats, Reuters reports.
Plans by the finance ministry to lower defense spending have caused the Israeli government to freeze the budget for Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., which produces the David's Sling antimissile system, an anonymous Israeli defense official said to journalists. Because of this, "David's Sling, which was supposed to be operational in 2015, will probably not be operational," the high-level source said.
Though U.S. government financing for the technology's further development is still in place, "we don't have the money here to pay for infrastructure," the official said on Wednesday.
David's Sling is designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, rockets and drones. The technology is intended to occupy the middle tier of Israel's multi-tiered missile shield, above the lower-altitude Iron Dome but beneath the long-range Arrow interceptor system. The technology reportedly already has been passed over by the Polish government, which is seeking to buy a missile defense system that can protect the country against ballistic missiles fired from close to its borders.
Meanwhile, U.S. House lawmakers are trying to ensure that more American defense firms will financially benefit from Israel's Iron Dome technology, Al-Monitor reported on Thursday.
A measure in the chamber's freshly passed fiscal 2015 defense authorization legislation would boost spending on Iron Dome by $175 million over the $176 million that the Pentagon had requested for the system. However, that extra funding would only become available if U.S. companies are given contracts to manufacture some of the system's components. The U.S. government in the last three years has poured $720 million into the Israeli program.
"Given the significant U.S. taxpayer investment in this system, the [House Armed Services Committee] believes that co-production of parts and components should be done in a manner that will maximize U.S. industry participation in interceptor and battery deliveries for Israel's defense needs," reads the committee report that accompanies the legislation.