November 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S. Approves Sale of Precision Guided Munitions to Israel

November 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S. Approves Sale of Precision Guided Munitions to Israel

Latest Developments

The U.S. State Department has approved a $320 million sale to Israel of Smart, Precise Impact, Cost Effective (Spice) guidance kits, according to a November 6 New York Times report. The approval is the latest development in the Biden administration’s effort to provide Israel weapons needed to defend itself and target Hamas following the terrorist group’s October 7 massacre. Israel’s most urgent needs thus far are additional air defense capacity and precision-guided munitions. The Pentagon has announced plans to transfer the U.S. Army’s two Iron Dome batteries to Israel and has provided Tamir interceptors, Small Diameter Bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 155mm artillery shells.

Expert Analysis

“Israel wants to destroy Hamas while doing everything it can to minimize civilian casualties. That’s easier said than done given Hamas’s systematic and deplorable use of Gazans as human shields. Precision-guided munitions can help. If Hezbollah opens a major northern front against Israel, the Spice guidance kits would also prove useful for strikes in Lebanon.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“Hamas bears legal and moral responsibility for large numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties, as its fighters have a habit of hiding in tunnels beneath the women and children they purportedly seek to protect. Continued supplies of precision-guided munitions will help Israel destroy Hamas while minimizing the resulting civilian casualties.” — Ryan Brobst, FDD Senior Research Analyst

Spice Capabilities

Spice guidance kits add a sophisticated navigation system to unguided bombs that allows them to strike targets more accurately using GPS/inertial navigation system guidance combined with an electro-optical seeker. According to the manufacturer, these features allow each bomb to calculate in flight the precise strike direction, angle, and fuse delay needed to penetrate hardened targets and reduce collateral damage. The 2,000-lb variant can strike targets at up to 60 km, and the 1,000-lb and 250-lb variants have even longer ranges. The smaller variants can be used in some instances to further reduce the risk of civilian casualties.

The ability to fire the system from a distance is less important for strikes in Gaza but could prove quite valuable for potential strikes against Hezbollah or Iran. In the current conflict in Gaza, Spice’s main advantage is that it provides additional precision-guided munition capacity, helping Israel destroy Hamas targets while reducing civilian casualties. The Department of State’s October 31 notification to Congress follows a previous $403 million sale of Spice guidance kits that occurred in February 2020.

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