* U.S. House of Representatives has sought possible team-up
* Israel said ready to give U.S. Iron Dome know-how for own
* System played critical role during Gaza fighting this
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON, Nov 29 Israel has agreed to give the
United States the know-how needed to produce interceptors used
by the vaunted Iron Dome rocket shield, but it is not interested
in any proposed co-production yet, an Israeli official told
Using radar-guided interceptor missiles, Israel's Iron Dome
defense system shot down 421 of some 1,500 rockets launched from
the Gaza Strip between Nov. 14 and an Egyptian-brokered truce on
Nov. 21, according to the Israeli military.
Co-production is not an option "right now" because of a need
to continue full-tilt output of the so-called Tamir interceptor
for rocket and mortar threats from Iranian-backed Hamas and
Hezbollah militants in Gaza and southern Lebanon, said the
Israeli official, who was not authorized to be named.
Israel fears that introducing a new supply line could
interfere with its target for stockpiled missiles in case of
renewed fighting, but it is open to reconsidering this
eventually if the United States wishes to do so, the official
The United States has provided hundreds of millions of
dollars to fund Israeli or joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense
programs such as Iron Dome and others known as Arrow and David's
Sling. Iron Dome, however, was developed by Israel on its own.
The U.S. assistance for building a tiered Israeli missile
shield is in addition to a 10-year, $30 billion military aid
package agreed to by former President George W. Bush in 2007.
The Pentagon has not shown great interest in acquiring Iron
Dome technology to date. Rather, it has been pushed to do so by
the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee, which
called this year for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency to
"explore any opportunity to enter into co-production," in light
of the significant U.S. funding of the system, even though the
United States has no rights to the Israeli technology involved.
In its version of a defense policy bill passed on May 27,
the House voted to authorize up to $680 million in additional
funding for Iron Dome production from fiscal 2012 to 2015. If
enacted, this would bring U.S. funding since 2011 to nearly $900
million to help Israel buy more batteries.
The Israeli military put Iron's Dome success rate in the
Gaza fighting at 90 percent. The system is designed to engage
only rockets headed for populated areas, often firing its Tamir
interceptor in pairs.
A Pentagon spokeswoman, Army Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins,
told Reuters that the U.S. Defense Department still sees
"possible opportunities" for co-production. The United States
and Israel have agreed to share "technical data rights" that
would be necessary, she added.
"What data rights will be acquired by the U.S. is a matter
of continued discussion," Robbins said in an emailed reply.
The Israeli official said negotiations would have to take
place on protecting Israel's intellectual property in case of
future exports to a third country. Israel would provide the
United States Iron Dome know-how for its own potential use out
of gratitude for U.S. funding, the official said.
Some experts have suggested the United States might
eventually seek such technology to protect zones in combat
situations like Afghanistan. Separately, Israel reportedly has
made efforts to export Iron Dome to countries in Asia, including
Raytheon Co, the world's biggest missile maker, said
in a statement to Reuters in May that it would welcome an
opportunity to partner with Israel's state-owned Rafael Advanced
Defense Systems Ltd. for co-production of the Iron Dome system
in the United States.
Raytheon, headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, is
co-producing David's Sling, a more powerful interceptor system,
with Rafael. A spokeswoman for Raytheon's Missile Systems
business unit, Heather Uberuaga, said Wednesday the company was
not publicly discussing either system.
The United States in July provided $70 million in its
latest installment of aid to fund Israeli procurement of Iron
Dome batteries. The system's interceptions of Palestinian
rockets during eight days of Gaza fighting cost $25 million to
$30 million, the Israeli government said last week.
Possible additional U.S. funding for Iron Dome is expected
to be discussed at the Pentagon later Thursday by Defense
Secretary Leon Panetta and his visiting Israeli counterpart,