The Pentagon has approved the sale of 1,000 bunker-busting smart bombs to Israel, a deal worth $77 million.
According to Haaretz.com, the bombs could be used to penetrate heavily fortified targets, such as suspected nuclear sites located in underground bunkers.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the Pentagon department responsible for evaluating foreign military sales, notified Congress over the weekend about the pending sale. Congress now has 30 days to voice its objections.
If the sale goes through, Israel will get other weapons as well. A DSCA news release states that "Israel has requested a possible sale of 1,000 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB1), 150 BRU-61/A SDB1 Mounting Carriages, 30 Guided Test Vehicles, 2 BRU-61/A SDB Instrumented Carriages, 7 Jettison Test Vehicles, 1 Separation Test Vehicle, 2 Reliability and Assessment Vehicles, 12 Common Munitions BIT and Reprogramming Equipment with Test Equipment and Adapters, 3 SDB1 Weapons Simulators, and 2 Load Crew Trainers. Also includes containers, flight test integration, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $77 million.
"Israel’s strategic position makes it vital to the United States’ interests throughout the Middle East. Our policy has been to promote Middle East peace, support Israel’s commitment to peace with other regional Arab countries, enhance regional stability and promote Israeli readiness and self-sufficiency. It is vital to the U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and mainproposed sale is consistent with those objectives."
The smart bomb, the GBU-28, is a laser-guided weapon whose warhead can burrow through more than 20 feet of concrete and up to 100 feet of dirt, according to AFP.
The sale comes despite concerns that the U.S. had been reluctant to sell the advanced weaponry out of fears that Israel would attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Iran is locked in a confrontation with the West over its nuclear program, which it claims is for civilian use only. The West suspects the program is aimed at developing weapons.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said last month that Israel would keep all options open regarding its stance toward Iran's nuclear capability.
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