Mrs. Inouye, Minister of Defense Yaalon, IAI Chairman Rafi Maor, MOD Chief of Staff Haim Blumenblat, Commander of the Air Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Shahar Shohat, Director of IMDO Yair Ramati, former Defense Minister Moshe Arens, former Ambassador Sallai Meridor, President of AIPAC Michael Kassen, distinguished guests, I am delighted to be here with all of you today to mark the opening of the Arrow ‘Hardware in the Loop’ simulator room honoring the late Senator Daniel Inouye. It is fitting to recall Senator Inouye’s more than half-century of work in the service of the U.S.-Israel relationship by dedicating this facility, where the U.S.-Israel security partnership is strengthened every day. And it’s a great testament to our partnership that this cutting-edge facility in Israel would be named after an American senator who worked so hard to build the relationship.
Yesterday, we bid farewell to Ariel Sharon, a warrior and a statesman who impressed all who know him with his love of country. Daniel Inouye also served his country first as a warrior, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as a Second Lieutenant in Italyon 21 April 1945. Later, as a Congressman, he worked tirelessly to build consensus across political, ideological, and demographic divides.
I remember Sen. Inouye’s last trip to Israel, two years ago this month, when he and I attended the dedication of the Israel Center for Excellence Through Education. How proud he was to support an institution that strives to foster excellence in education, leadership, and public responsibility.
He was a true friend of Israel, virtually from its founding. When he completed his military service and before he was ever elected to public office, Senator Inouye sold Israel bonds in his native Hawaii. Later, as a Congressman representing the newly declared state of Hawaii, America’s 50th state, Senator Inouye worked tirelessly to secure funding for Israel and its strategic defenses.
Part of his legacy is America’s ironclad commitment to Israel’s security, a commitment that Senator Inouye played a personal part in building, and the strength of which is apparent through the proven success of the Arrow program.
Arrow was just one of so many Israeli defense programs that Senator Inouye supported. Throughout his five decades in Congress, he facilitated the exchange of a diverse array of equipment and capabilities between Israel and the United States. In missile defense, Sen. Inouye was a great supporter of David’s Sling and Iron Dome. He was also instrumental in bringing Israeli technologies to the American military, technologies that have saved the lives of countless American military personnel and contributed to the success of American military missions.
Building on this legacy of U.S.-Israel military cooperation, the Arrow 3 program has truly charted new frontiers in safeguarding Israel’s security. Following the great success of Arrow 2, which has protected Israel for more than a decade, the Arrow 3 goes even farther in preparing Israel to respond to threats beyond its borders. As Israel’s first exo-atmospheric kill vehicle, it truly represents new heights in our security partnership as well as in Israeli’s ability to defend itself.
What I love best about the Arrow program is that not only is it one of the most successful programs in our missile defense cooperation, it is truly a joint program – developed with U.S. and Israeli expertise. Not only do we have Israeli engineers working here in here in Kibbutz Netzer Sireni, but also Americans in Huntsville, Alabama working on the technology that will be integrated and tested here and become part of Israel’s missile defenses. When we talk about Americans supporting Israel’s security, it’s hard to find a better example than that.
As we dedicate this facility today, we will also plant a tree in Senator Inouye’s name – an olive tree. So at the same time that we celebrate the achievements of our defense cooperation, the olive tree also reminds us that the U.S. and Israel are also working hand in hand to build a secure and peaceful future. As all of you know, Secretary Kerry is working intently with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian president Abbas to achieve the long-hoped dream of two states living in peace with one another.
I look forward to hearing about the many successes that I am sure will come out of the work at this facility. Thank you for your close partnership with the United States and thank you for honoring a great American, Senator Daniel Inouye.