Pentagon approves $1.9 billion in weapons for Israel

The Pentagon approved a $1.9-billion sale of missiles to Israel, perhaps to replenish its arsenal after Operation Protective Edge or, more likely, to reassure Israel on the Iranian nuclear deal.

By Lauren Calin, World Israel News
Hellfire missiles on attack helicopter

Hellfire missiles loaded on an American helicopter in Iraq. (Wikipedia/Looper5920)

The Pentagon approved a massive missile sale to Israel. The impetus behind the move is not clear, although the simultaneous approval of the sale of military helicopters to Saudi Arabia suggests that it may be intended to reassure Israel regarding the Iranian nuclear deal. Another possibility is that the missiles are to replace supplies expended in Operation Protective Edge.

According to a statement by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the sale is worth $1.9 billion and includes 3,000 Hellfire missiles, which are used by helicopters; 250 medium-range, air-to-air missiles; 4,100 glide bombs capable of penetrating up to 10 meters of concrete; and 50 BLU-113 “super penetrator” bombs for busting bunkers. The US will also provide 14,500 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) “tail kits,” which transform regular, unguided missiles into GPS-guided missiles.

“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” said the statement. “The proposed sale of this equipment will provide Israel the ability to support its self-defense needs. These munitions will enable Israel to maintain operational capability of its existing systems and will enhance Israel’s interoperability with the United States.”

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Congress has 30 days to approve or amend the sale, which is expected to go through.

The Pentagon further announced a sale of the same value to Saudi Arabia. The US will provide Saudi Arabia with 10 Seahawk MH-60R helicopters together with the requisite radar, navigation systems and 38 Hellfire missiles. Israel and Saudi Arabia have been the top critics of the Iranian nuclear deal, which they believe will provide Iran with the cover to develop a nuclear weapon. Israeli media reported that the US may try to sell military equipment to Israel in return for its silence on the agreement.