Florida’s Senators Want Full Funding of U.S.-Israel Missile Defense Cooperation

Florida’s two U.S. senators–Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott–joined more than 40 other senators led by U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, and Mike Rounds, R-SD, in a letter to U.S. Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, regarding efforts to fully fund U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense programs in the Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2023.

The senators called for $500 million to fund Israel’s missile defense system, which is made up of four operational layers: Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow 2, and now Arrow 3. In addition to contributing to ballistic missile defense, the funding will support crucial work on research, development, and test activities to ensure our most important ally in the Middle East has the capabilities to defend itself against increasingly hostile unmanned aerial systems.

The letter is below.

Dear Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Shelby:

Thank you for this committee’s strong support of U.S.-Israel collaborative defense programs, including Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow, as well as our continued cooperative work on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). As you begin work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Defense Appropriations bill, we write seeking $500 million for continued support for these programs in order to meet the United States’ and Israel’s national security needs.

Joint U.S.-Israel collaboration on Israel’s multilayer missile defense system is instrumental to the defense of Israel. Since 1986, Congress and successive Administrations have demonstrated bipartisan support for joint U.S.-Israel missile defense collaboration. This partnership has helped build and maintain a multi-tiered Israeli missile defense system capable of countering a wide range of threats from state and non-state actors. In September 2016, this support was expressed in a Memorandum of Understanding reached with Israel on long-term funding for military assistance to Israel, including missile defense.

Israel’s missile defense system is made up of four operational layers: Iron Dome (short-range), David’s Sling (medium-range), Arrow 2 (longer range), and now Arrow 3 (very long range). The U.S.-Israeli cooperation has resulted in a system that can, and has, countered numerous missile threats from state and non-state adversaries in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere. This system provides Israel with the ability to protect lives at home and on the battlefield, keeping its citizens and soldiers out of harm’s way.

Another area of critical importance to both the United States and Israel is in the field of UAS and, perhaps as importantly, counter-UAS. Iran and its proxies’ increased use and sales of UAS only heighten the importance of these systems. The collaborative defense program has created an important flow of data to support U.S. service members in theater, U.S. missile defense technology, and our strategic ally, Israel. Additionally, the programs support critical elements of the industrial base and important jobs in the United States through co-development and co-production agreements. For FY 2023, in addition to ballistic missile defense, $500 million will continue critical work on research, development and test activities to counter hostile unmanned aerial systems.

Together, these programs confront the compelling challenges facing both Israel and the United States and represent the security-based and economic tenets of the enduring friendship of our nations. We look forward to working with you on these important programs.

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