x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

US builds missile defence system in Israel

The United States has recently deployed an anti-missile radar in Israel that is mainly to warn of incoming Iranian ballistic missiles.

The United States has recently deployed an anti-missile radar in Israel that is mainly to warn of incoming Iranian ballistic missiles, Israeli state radio reported today. The radar with a range of more than 2,000km is sited in the south of the country and is operated by a permanent 120-strong US army staff, the report added. However a defence ministry spokesman said he did "not know about such a deployment", when questioned by reporters.

A senior Pentagon official had said in late July that the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, agreed to explore deploying a powerful missile defence targeting radar in Israel. "The idea here is to help Israel create a layered missile defence capability to protect it from all sorts of threats in the region, near and far," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Besides the radar, Mr Gates also agreed to explore sharing missile early warning launch data, as well as US funding for two costly Israeli projects designed to counter short-range rockets and mortars, he said.

The official said deploying the X-band radar was a near-term proposition, adding "all this is moving pretty quickly." "We are going to station this land-based system there, and the Israelis would plug into it," said the official. An X-band radar is a powerful phased array radar that can target the warhead of a long or medium range missile in space. The United States has deployed one in Japan and plans to install a larger X-band radar in the Czech Republic.

The official linked the assistance to the US administration's push for progress on a road map for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But it appeared to be more directly related to Israel's concern about Iran's nuclear program. * AFP