America, Israel Cooperate To Develop Defense Against Short-Range Missiles
Barak, On U.S. Tour, Visits With U.S. Defense Chief Gates
A new American-Israeli joint development program aims to produce a missile defense capability that would be effective against long-range threats, but more importantly against short-range enemy missiles.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in their meeting, agreed to cooperate further on missile defense.
The two sides agreed to form a committee to study an Israeli proposal on ways to modify and expand their existing missile defense systems, according to Rep. Trent Franks (R- Ariz.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and co-chair of the House Missile Defense Caucus.
Franks lauded the initiative.
"Israel is one of our closest allies in the war against jihadist terrorism, both ideologically and strategically." Franks said.?"Cooperating with our allies in building an integrated missile defense system is not only the last line of defense against a nuclear missile attack, but it is also the first line of defense against proliferation because it reduces the military asset value of missile-borne weapons, from Katusha rockets to nuclear warheads."
Israel knows from bitter and long experience how devastating missile attacks can be, with Muslim terrorist groups bombarding Israel with missiles, especially last year when Hezbollah terrorists sent hundreds of missiles from Lebanon into Israel.
One of the problems is in countering short-range missiles, because there is such a short time period between launch of the enemy weapon and its strike on a target.
While Israel already has nominal missile defense capabilities, they remain vulnerable to attacks from shorter-range Palestinian rockets, such as those launched from the Gaza Strip.
Franks hailed the move to counter such short-range threats, saying that Gates and Barak "have made another great stride in building a strong defense against out shared enemies."
Israel already successfully tested and deployed its Arrow anti-missile system that was developed jointly with the United States, a defense shield that is said to be able to deflect most mid-range missile strikes.
Franks and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) offered an amendment to the defense authorization bill for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2008, to permit funding for David’s Sling, a shield designed to intercept short range missiles, and more funding for the Arrow program. But Democrats in the House Rules Committee voted against consideration of the amendment.
Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, met in Washington with Gates on Barak’s first trip abroad since becoming defense minister.
The two leaders also discussed the ominous situation in Iran.
Over more than a year, Iran has fired a series of missiles in a single test, launched a missile from a submerged submarine, and moved to possess steadily longer-range missiles that might be able to threaten Europe.
As well, Iran flouts world opinion by continuing to develop nuclear materials, which it claims would be used for electrical generation but which Western powers and the United Nations fear will be used in building nuclear weapons.
To counter that threat, the United States is proposing to build a Ground-based Midcourse missile Defense (GMD) system in Europe, with a high-capability radar in the Czech Republic and interceptors based in Poland.
However, that plan has run into budget cuts in Congress. The GMD plan also has encountered a hail of hostility from Russia, which claims the 10 GMD interceptors might threaten hundreds of Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads, an assertion that U.S. leaders including President Bush have termed preposterous.
Palestinians Shoot Deadlier Grad-Type Katyusha Weapons Into Israel
Palestinian terrorists have added higher-powered, longer-range and deadlier Grad-type Katyusha rockets to their arsenal that has been dominated by low-tech Quds missiles, The Economist magazine reported.
According to the report, the hundreds of Quds that have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel over many months have been joined by the Katyusha weapon, such as one that was fired into the Israeli town of Netivot earlier this month.
Katyushas were used by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon last year in a barrage of hundreds of the weapons that caused widespread damage in Israel.
Israel and the Palestinians have scheduled a peace summit in November or December, and some speculate that the terrorists’ move to step up the firepower by using Katyushas may be a bid to derail the peace initiative.
But Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, instead of launching an invasion of the Gaza Strip to find and stop the rocket-wielding terrorists, instead is speaking of new missile defenses that could annihilate any Katyushas launched at Israel. (Please see separate story in this issue.)