U.S., Israel said set to launch anti-missile tests

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:51pm EST

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WASHINGTON Feb 27 (Reuters) - The United States and Israel are planning war games through 2010 to test their joint ballistic missile-defense capabilities, a senior U.S. Defense Department official told Congress on Wednesday.

The countries will undertake "an ambitious bilateral exercise program over the next two years that will realistically test our joint capability to address ballistic missile threats," Michael Vickers, an assistant secretary of defense, told a House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee.

President Bush asked Congress this month for $44.9 million for a joint U.S.-Israeli short-range ballistic missile effort known as David's Sling in the coming budget year, up from an enacted 2008 level of $36.5 million.

The program teams Rafael Armament Development Authority, an Israeli state-owned weapons maker, with Raytheon Co (RTN.N), a Waltham, Massachusetts-based maker of missiles and weapons control systems.

Vickers said the United States and Israel were continuing to cooperate on a theater missile-defense project called Arrow for which Boeing (BA.N) provides about half the missile components to Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.

In addition, the United States has begun to explore with Israel "options for addressing ballistic missile threats that exceed the Arrow's defensive capability," Vickers said.

A spokesman for Vickers could not immediately elaborate on the possible new projects in question.

(Reporting by Jim Wolf; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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