on November 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Israel seeks to buy $1.3 bln of U.S. missiles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Bush administration announced tentative plans on Wednesday to sell Israel up to $1.32 billion worth of advanced guided TOW and Hellfire missiles, munitions and other weapons.

The prime contractors for the proposed sale would be Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a mandatory notice to Congress.

Israel is seeking to buy 1,700 Lockheed Martin Hellfire II missiles plus 100 Raytheon Patriot guidance enhanced missile-plus munitions and 2,000 radio frequency TOW 2A missiles, the notice said.

“Israel’s strategic position makes it vital to the United States’ interests throughout the Middle East,” the agency said. “It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability.”

At the same time, the Pentagon announced plans to sell Egypt up to 2,000 similar, TOW 2A anti-armor guided missiles plus related equipment in a deal valued at up to $99 million. Raytheon would be the prime contractor for this sale, the Pentagon said in a separate notice to Congress.

“Egypt needs these TOW 2 missiles and launchers to augment its current inventory and provide mechanized infantry and field artillery units with an anti-armor capability,” the agency that handles U.S. government-to-government arms sales said.

The United States has longstanding commitments to Israel and Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel.

In August, the Bush administration offered Israel a record $30 billion, 10-year military aid package described as strengthening a regional bulwark against Iran.

The notice of a proposed sale is required by U.S. law. It does not mean a sale has been concluded. In addition, Congress has the power to reject proposed arms sales, but rarely does so.

(Additional reporting by Julie Vorman)