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U.S. defense bill boosts funding for missile defense to $9.5 billion

Leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives Armed Services committees released details of a slimmed-down defense authorization bill for fiscal 2014 late on Monday. REUTERS/Jerry Morrison/U.S. Air Force/Handout
Leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives Armed Services committees released details of a slimmed-down defense authorization bill for fiscal 2014 late on Monday. REUTERS/Jerry Morrison/U.S. Air Force/Handout

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A compromise defense bill proposed on Monday by U.S. lawmakers would boost spending on missile defense by $358 million to $9.5 billion, mandating an additional homeland defense radar and increasing funding for U.S.-Israeli cooperative efforts.

Leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives Armed Services committees released details of a slimmed-down defense authorization bill for fiscal 2014 late on Monday, calling for a final vote on the measure before Congress leaves for the year.

The bill includes $80 million in additional funding to address the problem that caused a missile defense test flight failure in July, and $30 million for design and development of a new, enhanced "kill vehicle," the part of the rocket that is used to hit the target missile and destroy it on impact.

In addition to added funding, the measure requires the Pentagon to develop options and plans to improve the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system run by Boeing Co.

The compromise measure also calls for the Missile Defense Agency to deploy another radar to protect the United States from long-range missile threats from North Korea, and to ensure that other sensors could be deployed on the Atlantic side of the United States to defend against missile threats from Iran.

It earmarked $20 million to fund efforts under way to evaluate a possible additional U.S. interceptor site.

The measure authorizes $173 million in added funding for U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile defense programs, including nearly $34 million to improve the Arrow weapon system and $22 million for work on developing an upper-tier interceptor. Boeing has worked with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on the Arrow II and Arrow 3 interceptors.

It also includes $117.2 million for development of the David's Sling short-range ballistic missile defense system, which is being developed jointly by Israel's state-owned Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd and Raytheon Co, one of the largest U.S. arms makers.

A new interceptor being developed by Israel and the United States to counter missiles that are held by Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah guerillas passed a second live trial last month, according to a summary released by the committees.

The measure also backed President Barack Obama's request of $220 million for Israel to buy additional Iron Dome short-range interceptors and batteries, and added $15 million to establish a U.S. co-production capability for Iron Dome parts.

Raytheon has a joint marketing agreement with Israeli state-owned manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd for the Iron Dome system.

In addition, the measure requires a report on U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation, and better reporting by the Missile Defense Agency on the full cost of operating and maintaining missile defense systems.

The measure also explicitly bans the use of fiscal 2014 funds to integrate Chinese missile defense systems into U.S. missile defense systems, a move aimed at putting further pressure on Turkey to change its mind about choosing a Chinese system over those proposed by U.S. and European firms.

U.S. and NATO officials have said the Chinese system could not work together with existing U.S. and NATO systems.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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