Israel needs $3.9B to fund Arrow plan

TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Amid controversial cuts in Israel's defense budget and concerns of new conflict in the Middle East, the Defense Ministry is grappling with the problem of funding costly plans to build a multi-layered shield against Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles.

Ministry sources say, for instance, that $3.9 billion is needed to produce more batteries of the long-range, high-altitude Arrow anti-missile system built by Israel Aerospace Industries and the Boeing Co. of the United States.

But large sums are also needed to produce more Iron Dome system, built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and designed to counter short-range rockets and missiles, as well as develop the David's Sling system for intercepting medium-range missiles, also a Rafael project.

With hefty state funds being diverted to social programs following unprecedented protests in 2011, the defense budget, largely untouchable in recent years, are being slashed to cover much of the cost.

In situations like this, particularly with the threat of war looming so large these days, it's possible that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's right-wing government will turn to the United States for financial support....

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