House lawmakers want rights to Iron Dome weapon tech

Members of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee elected to set aside $680 million to assist Tel Aviv in buying the Iron Dome weapon in its version of the fiscal 2013 defense spending bill. 

In fiscal 2011, Congress approved roughly $200 million for Iron Dome buys. The Pentagon claims the weapon has been vital in repelling short-range rocket and mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. 

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In March alone, the three Iron Dome systems deployed in southern Israel successfully intercepted 80 percent of the 300 rockets and mortars fired into the country from Gaza, Defense Department spokesman George Little said on March 27. 

Subcommittee members acknowledged the weapon has "proven very effective" in protecting Israel's southern borders in their portion of the House defense bill. 

The funding would work to "ensure long-term cooperation" between the United States and Israel on Iron Dome development, according to members. 

But before any money is moved, House members want Missile Defense Agency chief Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly to "ensure the United States has appropriate rights to this technology." 

The United States has invested nearly $900 million into Iron Dome work, "yet the United States has no right to the technology involved," according to the subcommittee's legislation. 

The House proposal would share rights to the weapon's proprietary technology "as is consistent with prior U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation," according to the subcommittee. 

In addition DOD and O'Reilly "should explore any opportunity to enter into co-production of the Iron Dome system with Israel, in light of the significant U.S. investment in this system," according to the panel's draft bill.