Behind Congressional Drive to Buy Iron Dome: Money From Raytheon

Letter from 40 congressmen urges U.S. Army to buy Israeli anti-missile system

Hagai Amit
Hagai Amit
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Israel's Iron Dome defense system in the Golan Heights, March 17, 2017
Israel's Iron Dome defense system in the Golan Heights, March 17, 2017Credit: JALAA MAREY/AFP
Hagai Amit
Hagai Amit

It’s unlikely that the 6,000 employees of Rafael have ever heard of Grace Meng and Peter Roskam, but the two U.S. Congress members have begun an initiative that could have a huge impact on the Israeli state-owned arms maker.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

The two – Meng is a Democrat, Roskam a Republican -- are behind a campaign that began last Friday in the House of Representatives with a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, urging it to continue funding for U.S.-Israel defense cooperation programs. Forty other congressmen signed on.

The letter calls for continued American financial support for Israeli defense programs. Moreover, they call on the committee to examine the possibility of the U.S. Army acquiring Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries, which is also involved in Iron Dome, deny any connection with Meng and Roskam’s undertaking, but Raytheon – the giant U.S. defense contractor – is Rafael’s partner in manufacturing and marketing the system.

The company donates about $2 million annually to more than 200 members of Congress and has a $5 million annual budget for lobbying.

Most of the 40 congressmen who signed the letter have enjoyed campaign contributions from Raytheon amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. The biggest recipient is Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican and former fighter pilot who received $40,000 from Raytheon over the last two years.

>> Everyone’s Talking About Russia’s S-300. Why Now, and Why Should Israel Be Worried? || Analysis >>

Roskam, who represents an Illinois district, has gotten $16,000 since 2014 from the arms maker. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, and Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, each received $18,000 over the last two years.

The first trials of Iron Dome took place nine years ago, and the system has since tipped the balance of power between Israel and Hamas even more heavily in Israel’s favor. The system won plaudits in the international media during the 2014 summer war with Gaza. Yet Israel still has not succeeded in winning a single export contract for it.

Experts say Iron Dome hasn’t gotten any export traction because its ability to take down short-range rockets is designed for uniquely Israeli needs. But there are many countries, like South Korea and India, that could benefit from the system.

An order from the Pentagon might lead to such countries following suit. In the meantime, a contract would be a major boost for Rafael, whose total annual turnover is just 8 billion shekels ($2.2 billion).

Each Iron Dome emplacement costs between $80 and $90 million, plus the costs of the missiles themselves. A contract from the Pentagon for even two systems, which include radar, a launching system and missiles, would add up to $250 million.

Iron Dome’s development cost $4.5 billion, most of which was covered by the U.S. Some of that aid is supposed to be repaid from export orders.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott