[EXCERPTS] DoD News Briefing
Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)
Thursday, April 3, 1997 - 2 p.m.
Q: On the Secretary's visit today with the Israeli Defense Minister, two
questions. One, did they discuss at all possible U.S. arms sales to the
region, i.e., Saudi Arabia? And also, the Blue Top you guys put out said
they decided to accelerate the Arrow missile defense program. Maybe you
could give me a little bit more on that.
A: I can't give you much more on it. We've offered to invest some more
money on that. We'd rather discuss it with the Hill first. The details aren't
totally worked out. But we will increase our investment in the Arrow missile
program, and it will help with testing and other aspects of it.
We've also offered to, and I'm sure they'll accept, to increase our
investment in the high energy laser program which is designed as a defense
against Katyusha rockets of the type that were fired from Southern
Lebanon into Northern Israel last year.
Another element of the meeting was that we will enhance a
counter-terrorism program that we and the Israelis are doing together. We
will each put in more money than previously contemplated. I think we put in
money on a two-thirds/one-third basis. So we'll be putting in two-thirds
and the Israelis one- third to boost spending on that.
Q: How much is currently being put into the Arrow program?
A: I think we're putting about $200 million in, and we would increase that
by a fairly significant percentage.
A: Twenty-five or so.
Q: My first question? On arms sales?
A: I wasn't at the meeting. There was a long discussion of the threat
environment in the Middle East, and I'm sure that the capabilities of other
countries arose in the course of that discussion, but I can't go into
because I wasn't there.
Q: Just to clear up one thing on the Arrow. You said that currently the
United States was providing $200 million, and you said a willingness to
bear a fairly significant percentage, 25 or so. Were you talking about 25
percent or 25 million?
A: Twenty-five percent.
Q: About $50 million.
A: As I said, the number isn't totally nailed down.
Q: Is there a reason we're accelerating Arrow? Are we concerned that the
Israelis need the system earlier?
A: The Israelis think this is a very important system, and it's to provide
defense against SCUDs and similar type missiles. They've been working
very hard on it. A couple of years ago when Secretary Perry was in Israel,
he spent half a day reviewing the progress of the Arrow program. He went
out to a lab where work was being done on it, saw them working on parts
of it. This is, for them, an important program. We're committed to helping
them maintain their qualitative defense edge, and this is one of the programs
they have identified as crucial to maintaining that edge.
Q: Do we concur with that, that they need it earlier? Or are we taking their
word for it basically?
A: Well, we have extensive discussions with Israel about their defense
needs, and we certainly agreed that increased investment in the program
was warranted at this time.