The Obama administration’s budget proposal for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins in October 2012, includes reductions in US aid for Israel’s Arrow and Iron Dome anti-missile programs for the second consecutive year. The budget proposal increases regular military aid to $3.15 billion from $3 billion this year, in line with the 2007 aid formula reached between the two countries. The proposed reduction in US aid for the Arrow and Iron Dome comes just when Israel’s defense needs are growing and the Ministry of Defense’s budget is being cut. The ministry has reportedly halted the procurement of two more Iron Dome batteries, due to the lack of funds.
The 2013 budget proposal includes $99,836,000 for Israeli missile programs, down from $106.1 million in 2012 and $121.7 million in 2011. The proposal includes $50,892,000 for the Arrow 3 exo-atmospheric anti-ballistic missile, which is under development, and $10,665,000 for the Arrow system enhancement program. The Iron Dome system against short-range missiles is allocated $38,279,000.
The administration’s budget proposal now goes to Congress, which has the right to amend it. For years, including for the 2012 fiscal year, the US legislature, has substantially increased the administration’s proposals for Israel’s anti-missile programs. Congress added $135.8 million to these programs in the 2012 budget, on top of what the administration requested, for a total of $235.7 million. $66,220,000 was allocated for the Arrow 3, $58,955,000 for the Arrow enhancement program, and $110,525,000 for Iron Dome.
Although Congress will likely increase US aid for the Arrow and Iron Dome, there is no certainty that the allocations in 2013 will equal the allocations in 2012.
The US administration notified Israeli officials of the proposed budget cuts. Sources in Washington believe that the proposed cuts are due to the US budget distress, and are unrelated to US-Israel collaboration on anti-missile programs. The Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Administration, which finances the Arrow and Iron Dome, will have its own budget cut in 2013. A senior Israeli defense official told “Globes”, before the budget proposal was published, that he was not surprised by the cuts.
Some pro-Israeli circles in Washington expressed shock over the proposed budget cuts, and the issue will likely become another partisan issue between the Republicans and Democrats in this year’s elections.