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U.S. to sell Israel Air Force 1,000 bunker-buster bombs

Last update - 21:27 14/09/2008

By Aluf Benn and Amos Harel

Tags: Iran , United States

Despite reservations in Washington regarding a possible Israeli strike on Iran , the American administration will supply Israel with sophisticated weapons for heavily fortified targets, the U.S. administration announced.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced it would sell the Israel Air Force 1,000 new smart bombs, rumored to significantly enhance the IAF's military capabilities. The deal was approved amid public and secret messages from Washington , with the Americans expressing their reservations about a possible Israeli strike against the Islamic Republic's suspected nuclear sites.

The Pentagon's announcement, which came on Friday, said the U.S. will provide Israel with 1,000 units of Guided Bomb Unit-39 (GBU-39) - a special weapon developed for penetrating fortified facilities located deep underground.

The $77 million shipment, which includes launchers and appurtenances, will allow the IAF to hit many more bunkers than currently possible. Although each bomb weighs 113 kilograms, its penetration capabilities equal those of a one ton bomb, according to professional literature.

Most U.S. Air Force aircraft are able to carry a pack of four of these bombs in place of a single one-ton bomb. The bomb's small size allows a single-strike aircraft to carry more of the munitions than is possible utilizing currently available bomb units, thus increasing firepower, or, alternatively, allowing the aircraft to fly longer distances to deliver a single bomb.

During demonstrations, the GBU-39 - labeled by the manufacturer, Boeing, as a Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) - has successfully penetrated more than 1.8 meters of thick reinforced concrete with a 23-kilogram warhead. The GPS-guided weapon is said to have a 50-percent probability of hitting its intended target within 5-8 meters, which should minimize collateral damage.

The estimated value for the bomb's GPS version, which military experts have called the latest development in the bunker-buster line, is around $70,000 to $90,000 for each individual bomb.

The U.S. has already supplied Israel with earlier versions of bunker busters. In 2005, the Pentagon authorized the sale of GBU-28 to Israel , in a move that commentators construed as a hinted threat aimed at Iran . Haaretz reported earlier this month that the U.S. was hesitant about selling Israel heavier busters.

The Pentagon's announcement also said that the U.S. would help upgrade the Israel Defense Forces' patriot anti-aircraft missiles - which Israel uses as part of its missile-interception array. Israel will also receive 28,000 LAW (Light Anti-Tank Weapon) tube launchers for land forces.

© Copyright 2008 Haaretz. All rights reserved

Around the Nation

Ex-CIA Official Warns He Will Spill Secrets

Wednesday, September 10, 2008; A16

A former top CIA official accused of corruption and fraud is threatening to expose the identities of numerous agents and programs as part of his defense, prosecutors said.

In a court filing, prosecutors allege that former CIA executive director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo is trying to gum up the works of his trial, scheduled for November, by delving into classified information that is irrelevant to the case. Foggo is charged with 28 counts of wire and mail fraud, unlawful money transactions and making false statements.

Prosecutors also allege that his attorneys are seeking to introduce classified evidence to "portray Foggo as a hero engaged in actions necessary to protect the public from terrorist acts" to gain sympathy from jurors.

Foggo's efforts are "a thinly disguised attempt to twist this straightforward case into a referendum on the global war on terror," wrote prosecutors in a court motion filed recently in U.S. District Court in Alexandria .

The government wants District Judge James C. Cacheris to hold a closed hearing on whether the information is admissible at trial and whether it is relevant to the case.

Last Tree-Sitters End Protest

BERKELEY, Calif. -- The four remaining protesters living in a redwood at the University of California at Berkeley climbed down Tuesday, ending a 21-month occupation of a campus grove aimed at stopping construction of a sports center. The tree-sitters said they agreed to come down on the condition that the university create a committee that will include input from students and residents on land decisions. But a university spokesman said no such deal was made.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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