TEL AVIV (Oct. 25)
The granting of a $160 million research and development contract makes Israel the largest foreign participant in the American Strategic Defense Initiative, the so-called “Star Wars” program, according to Lt. Gen. James Abrahamson, the SDI director.
Speaking here Monday at a conference on the U.S.- Israeli Defense Industry, Abrahamson said the award was “a clear testament” to Israel’s advanced technological base.
The grant is for research involving the Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile, which is designed to destroy incoming medium-range ballistic missiles at their highest point in flight.
“Israel is the first among allied nations in total value of contracts awarded for participation in SDI,” Abrahamson said.
The United States has already put $9 billion into the idea of creating a defensive shield in space against ballistic missiles.
Other foreign participants are Britain, West Germany, Italy, France, Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands.*
Abrahamson stressed that the SDI program would continue under the next American administration regardless of who is elected president on Nov. 8.
American firms hold the bulk of the $9 billion investment, which makes the project hard to kill, despite serious doubts expressed by the scientific community as to its viability.
About 300 people were attending the conference, including 30 U.S. government officials and about 40 American industrialists. It is sponsored by the Israeli Defense Ministry.
Abrahamson said his presence and that of the other officials indicate American support for the conference, which aims to promote cooperation between the Israeli and American defense industries.
The first Israeli speaker, Gen. David Avri, proposed that Israel become the southern industrial mobilization base for U.S. military forces in Europe.