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U.S., Israel Forging Wider Missile Defense Program

The American efforts to help Israel develop a multi-tier missile defense program to counter threats ranging from short-range rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to medium-range ballistic missiles from Iran is a staple of U.S. aid to Israel, which is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II.

Through the current fiscal year, the United States has provided $121 billion to Israel in bilateral assistance and almost all of that has been in the form of military assistance, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The Iron Dome has received particular attention on Capitol Hill recently because of its capacity to defend Israel from rockets fired between two and 45 miles away, giving Israel an effective defense against Hamas.

But the United States and Israel have had an agreement in place since 2008 to co-develop Davids Sling, which is designed to counter long-range rockets and slower-flying cruise missiles fired at ranges of 25 miles to 185 miles, such as those possessed by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Ballistic missile defenses date back even further to 1988, when Israel and the United States began developing the Arrow anti-missile system to counter short-range ballistic missiles.

Since then, the two countries have developed Arrow II, which is designed to protect the country from the threat of longer-range ballistic missiles.

And seven years ago, the United States and Israel agreed to work together on the Arrow III in response to concerns of the nuclear threat posed by Iran. The Arrow III, whose interceptor can maneuver in space, is essentially a more advanced version of the Arrow II, featuring both better speed and range than its predecessor.

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