U.S. Rep. Ron Barber said he is pleased that the president is seeking additional funding for the Iron Dome missile-defense system in the upcoming budget – something Barber urged the president to do 10 days ago.
“The security of Israel is paramount and Iron Dome has proven to be effective in defending Israel against a barrage of missiles and rockets,” Barber said today.
“I am hopeful that our increased commitment to Iron Dome will lead to co-production of the missile-defense system in the United States,” Barber added. “I also welcome the expression of support by the commander of the Israeli defense force, who noted the economic opportunity that co-production would offer to the U.S. aerospace industry.”
Increased funding of Iron Dome could lead to increased employment at Raytheon Missile System’s facility in Tucson.
In a March 12 letter to the president, Barber wrote: “Increasing our investment in the Iron Dome system will also create a unique opportunity to strengthen both of our counties, economically and militarily.
“While it is imperative that production of Iron Dome not be delayed, bringing together our best resources and standing up a production line for this system here in the United States would expedite delivery of the defense system and develop future redundancy and protection for production lines and support.”
In his visit to Israel this week, Obama pledged to seek additional funding for Iron Dome. The system is credited with shooting down hundreds of rockets fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip last November.
Iron Dome will receive $211 million in U.S. funding this fiscal year.
The United States already has spent over $200 million to help procure Iron Dome. Raytheon Missile Systems, based in Tucson, has partnered with Israel-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems for development and production of the David’s Sling air and missile defense system and has a marketing agreement with Rafael for the Iron Dome system.
This week, Brigadier-General Shachar Shohat, commander of the Israeli defense force, noted in an interview with Reuters: “I understand the need of the other side to encourage investment in its side ... certainly given U.S. policy of trying to create jobs during a troubled economic situation. To me, it is clear that the American partner also has to look out for the American economy."
Last December, Barber called for language in the defense budget that would move the two countries toward joint production of Iron Dome.
If both countries produce Iron Dome systems, it likely will bring new jobs to Raytheon’s Tucson facility. With about 10,500 employees, Raytheon Missile Systems is the largest private employer in Southern Arizona.