I admit to a severe technical illiteracy about such matters, but we are fortunate to have well-informed correspondents. A reader sent us an email this morning with news from DEBKAfile about the recently-installed Israeli portion of the radar system. It turns out that the United States has insisted on keeping complete operational control over the FBX-T in Israel. Considering that the system could give Israel advance warning of incoming missiles from Iran or other enemies of the Jewish state, it’s understandable that the Israelis are unhappy about this state of affairs.
According to DEBKAfile (yes, I know DEBKA is not entirely trustworthy as a news source):
In granting Israel the powerful FBX-T radar system to enhance its early warning resources against incoming missiles, Washington laid down a strict hands-off proviso. The system will be installed at a US base in the southern Israeli Negev. It will be off-limits to Israelis and managed exclusively by American personnel.
This discovery, revealed here for the first time by DEBKAfile’s military sources, has aroused astonished rancor in senior Israel army circles. They questioned the judgment of prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Ehud Barak, foreign minister Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz, who leads the Israeli side of the twice-annual strategic dialogue with the US, and chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi in accepting this proviso.
Even Poland, one officer commented, looked after its sovereignty and only signed its defense pact with the United States for the installation of missile interceptors on its Baltic coast after the Americans agreed to instruct Polish crews in their future operation.
Yet none of the Israeli officials involved in the radar transaction saw fit to carry this point. The FBX-T was requested to allow Israel’s Arrow missile defense system to engage a Shehab-3 missile about halfway through its 11-minute flight from Iran, several times sooner than the Arrow’s Green Pines radar is capable of doing.
The FBX-T can track objects in space such as a missile tipped with a chemical, germ or nuclear warhead.
Here’s what our reader had to say about the affair:
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Debka is not reliable source, but it got me thinking…
Arrow 2 had range of 90km, and Green Pine Radar has range of 800km. That is more then enough to acquire any target before it gets into missile range.
So why a 2000km-range radar that can track birds half a world away?
I opened Google Earth, and by using the ruler tool (tools-ruler) I checked what lies within a 2000km range from Israel. Well, it covers everything from the Iranian-Afghani border in the east to Libya in the west. From Yemen and Ethiopia in the south, to Russia and Ukraine in the north.
It puts Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan well in range. It covers both the Gulf and Caucasus oil fields.
In the light of growing tensions between NATO and Russia, the possible bombing of Iran, civil war in Sudan, possible Islamist takeovers in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Hizbullah taking over in Lebanon, the Iraqi war, the Balkan wars, the independence of Kosovo, it seems that Bush and Olmert turned Israel into a forward listening post for most of potential American conflicts. Only two major conflict zones that are not covered are Venezuela and North Korea.
If Ukraine and Georgia become members of NATO, there will probably be an overt war between NATO and Russia. They have been fighting a covert war ever since the 1999 bombing of Serbia. I would not be surprised if the Russians try to bomb that radar in Israel. If it is as powerful as they claim it is, it would be a huge asset in fighting Russia.
They did deploy similar radar in Japan, which covers north Korea, Taiwan, and huge chunk of China.
I don’t know what exactly to make of it, but it sure looks like a pattern.
Here’s some information about the Japanese radar from when testing first began back in 2006:
The site selected for the so-called Forward Based X-band Transportable (FBX-T) radar is opposite North Korea in northeastern Japan at an air base near the village of Shariki.
The Missile Defense Agency said Monday data gathered by the radar will be shared between US and Japanese forces, and “will support capabilities to intercept hostile missiles.”
“The radar will be capable of detecting ballistic missiles early in their flight and will provide precise tracking information for use by the combatant commanders,” the agency said.
“This approach provides overlapping sensor-coverage, expands potential battle space, and complicates an enemy’s ability to penetrate the defense system,” the agency said.
Testing of the radar could begin as early as this week, a defense official said.
Japan was stunned in 1998 when North Korea fired a long-range Taepodong missile in a surprise test, and tensions again are on the rise over North Korean preparations for a possible Taepodong-2 launch.
Japan, which still has no missile defense system, has agreed in principle to the deployment of US Army Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile defense systems at US military installations to protect US forces.
Our reader had this to add:
And where else were X-band radars deployed? They are very expensive: $2 billion. I doubt that more then five or six were made.
And it seems that US is donating them to allies that are close to biggest threats to US interests. Smart move.
Here is a Stars and Stripes article about the radar in Japan.