WASHINGTON (JTA) — Forty Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives urged appropriators to consider purchasing Iron Dome, the short-range missile defense system in Israel, for U.S. Army use.

The request came in a letter to the top Republican and Democrat on the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee urging inclusion of $500 million for Israeli missile defense in the 2019 defense appropriations bill. Adoption of Iron Dome by the U.S. Army would mean increasing the support for sustaining the missile defense system, developed by two Israeli companies, which Israel regards as critical in protecting its communities near its southern border with the Gaza Strip and and its northern border with Lebanon.

“Adoption by the Army of Iron Dome could provide an important near-term capability to U.S. forces as well as a surge production capacity if we or Israel required the system in a time of crisis,” said the letter initiated by Reps. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Pete Roskam, R-Ill. The letter was sent April 11 and released to the media by the offices of Meng and Roskam on April 20.

The letter said Iron Dome has a utility as U.S. forces worldwide face an increasingly unstable threat environment.

“Today, our forces face challenges from an emboldened, aggressive, and increasingly militarized Russia, North Korea, and other adversaries heightening our immediate need for advanced missile defense systems to protect our forward-based forces and key fixed installations,” it said. “One option we believe the Subcommittee should carefully study would be supporting the U.S. Army’s immediate acquisition of the Iron Dome system. The Army has recently tested Iron Dome, for which the U.S. has full data rights and a coproduction agreement.”

The $500 million for missile defense is already guaranteed to Israel under a $3.8 billion per year defense assistance package signed toward the end of the Obama administration, but the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is seeking formal congressional backing for the aid as a protective measure against any president reneging on the deal.

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