US deploys advanced radar system in Israel to counter Iranian missiles

September 28th, 2008 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 28 (IANS) The US has deployed an advanced high-powered radar system and supporting people at an Israeli air base to counter any possible missile strike from Iran, the Defense News magazine has reported.Quoting US and German sources, the US military magazine said over the weekend that more than a dozen of aircraft transferred the high-powered, high-frequency radar system and some 120 US European Command (EUCOM) supporting personnel and equipment to Israel’s Nevatim Air Base located southeast of Beersheba last Sunday.

The AN/TPY-2 X-band radar system is designed to detect and track ballistic missiles soon after launch and “can track an object the size of a baseball from 4,700 km away”, according to the magazine.

Its ancillary gear included cooling systems, generators, perimeter defence weaponry, logistics supplies and dozens of technicians, maintenance specialists and security forces to operate and defend the US installation.

Though the EUCOM has repeatedly deployed troops and air defence batteries for joint exercises and Iraq-related wartime contingencies, but has never before permanently deployed troops on Israeli soil.

However, a EUCOM spokesman declined to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, an Israeli military spokesman said the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) “enjoys longstanding strategic cooperation with all branches of the US military”.

“This cooperation is varied and comes in multiple forms, and it is not our practice to discuss details of our bilateral activities,” he said.

Nevertheless, in previous interviews, US and Israeli officials confirmed that the X-band deployment plan was approved in July.

During a visit to Israel in early August, Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defence Agency, had said the X-Band radar could add precious minutes to the time in which Israel has to respond to incoming missile attacks.

“The missile threat from Iran is very real, and we must stay ahead of the threat… that’s why we’re working so hard with all our allies to put the most optimised, effective, anti-missile capabilities in place,” Obering had said.

According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, the radar will allow Israel’s Arrow missile to engage an Iranian Shahab-III ballistic missile about halfway through.

It is believed that once fired a Shahab-III missile till hit any Israeli destination within 11 minutes, six times sooner than Israel’s “Green Pine” radar can.

Given Iran’s nuclear ambition and President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad’s statements that the Jewish state will be wiped out of the map, Israel considers Iran as its main threat.

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