WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department on Tuesday declined to give any details about arms shipments to Israel, saying the data was sensitive and could reveal data about the “order of battle” and Israel’s capabilities.
The Pentagon, facing questions about U.S. weapons sales to Israel amid growing international concerns about Israel’s 18-day offensive in Gaza, underscored U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself.
“These sales help peaceful nations meet their legitimate needs of self-defense,” it said in a statement. “All arms transfers are strictly regulated and are done in the interest of peace and broader international security.”
The Pentagon in 2008 approved a slew of arms sales to Israel, including:
— 25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes being designed and built by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), and an option for up to 50 more, in a deal valued at $15.2 billion;
— three kits made by Raytheon Co (RTN.N) to upgrade Israel’s Patriot missile defense system, a deal valued at up to $164 million if all options are exercised;
— 28,000 M72A7 66mm light anti-armor weapons, 60,000 training rockets, and other equipment, in a deal valued at up to $89 million, for which the main contractor would be Talley Defense, based in Mesa Arizona;
— 1,000 GBU-9 small diameter bombs made by Boeing Co (BA.N), in a deal valued at up to $77 million if all options are exercised;
— 9 Lockheed C-130J cargo aircraft, as well as advanced radars, engines built by Rolls-Royce Group (RR.L), missile warning systems, high frequency radios and other other communications equipment, a deal valued at up to $1.9 billion;
— up to four Littoral Combat Ships being designed by Lockheed that would be equipped with 2 MK-41 Vertical Launch Systems, enhanced Harpoon launching system, surface vessel torpedo tubes, and other related equipment, a deal worth up to $1.9 billion;
— unleaded gasoline, JP-8 aviation jet fuel, and diesel fuel worth up to $1.3 billion.
The U.S. military this week canceled the shipment of 325 containers of ammunition from the western Greek port of Astakos to a U.S. stockpile in Israel, citing safety concerns at the Israeli port of destination due to the conflict in Gaza.
A Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday the transport had been canceled at the request of the Greek government. Reports of the shipment had provoked a media outcry in Greece, where Israel’s war against Gaza is deeply unpopular. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by Carol Bishopric)