Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Early Warning

One of the most important components of a successful missile defense system is powerful long-range radar. Over the last few years the United States has been installing and testing FBX-T radar in various locations around the globe.

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.


blogagog said...

Funny side note: FBX-T radars make radar detectors go CRAZY for MILES in the direction they are facing.

Dymphna said...

In From the Cold reports that Iran's latest missile attempt (August 17) failed again -- though that's not what they're reporting to their citizens.

However, the USN is watching and they saw it peter out:

"the Safir rocket went out of control at high altitude and never completed its ascent."

Another Dud

In the post previous to that, Spook 86 discusses the logistics of an Iranian air strike against Israel:

Last September, the Deputy Commander of the Iranian Air Force stated that his country had developed plans for bombing Israel, if the IAF made the "silly mistake" of striking Tehran's nuclear facilities. As we noted at the time, it was hardly a threat that would strike fear in the hearts of Israeli defense planners. Unfortunately for Iran, there was--and is--a sizable gap between their strategic planning and operational capabilities.

Fact is, the Iranian Air Force--or more correctly, Iran's two Air Forces have serious training, equipment, airspace and logistical issues that make a successful strike on Israel almost impossible.

We'll begin with the airspace problem. Getting to Israel from Iran means over-flying countries like Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Crossing Iraq and Jordan offers the most direct route, but that means a confrontation with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy jets--a battle the Iranians would certainly lose. Turkey and Saudi Arabia would also oppose transit by Iranian fighters headed for Israel, and both have better jets and pilots.

In fact, Iran's most "viable" option for an airstrike against Israel would require a long, circuitous flight down the Persian Gulf, around the Arabian Peninsula, and up the Red Sea. That route would carry Iranian fighters through international airspace, but it would significantly increase flight time, in-flight refueling requirements and the probability of detection.

And, speaking of tankers, did we mention that Iran has only two--a KC-707 (similar to our own KC-135) and a modified Boeing 747. The older KC-707 flies on a periodic basis; as for the 747, there is some speculation that it has been converted for other missions, such as hauling cargo.

In any case, the lack of tankers would be crippling for any planned Iranian airstrike. Consider this; it is believed that Israel (which operates at least seven KC-707 tankers and a number of KC-130 airframes) has enough in-flight refueling capability to get two dozen fighter jets to Iran on a strike mission. With only one tanker, the Iranian Air Force could probably provide enough fuel for no more than three jets. Not much of a strike package--and one that would be mauled by the IAF...

Whenever I need a dose of reality about affairs military, diplomatic or intel, that's where I go.

In From the Cold

Anonymous said...

managed exclusively by American personnel

Who picks the Americans for this project? Are they pro-Israel, or could some of the people in charge be the usual ambivalent American government types? Worst case scenario: someone deliberately fumbles when a missile approaches Israel. Self-preservation won't necessarily prevent such a person from sabotaging the system.

Zenster said...

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.

After Pollard et al, this is only common sense. No matter how philosophically important it may be to support the Israeli cause, far too many Jews have demonstrated a distinct willingness to betray any and all causes for their almighty shekel.

So why a 2000km-range radar that can track birds half a world away?

Like it or not, tyrannous and terrorist supporting governments will force the militarization of space. China's dazzling of our orbiting reconnaisance birds is sufficient proof of this. Over-the-horizon radar and ionospheric bouncing detection systems are just the beginning and everyone in America should be glad as H-E-Double-Toothpicks that we can harness these technologies like a pair of complacent retarded mules.

... it seems that Bush and Olmert turned Israel into a forward listening post for most of potential American conflicts.

It's about time that Israel carried its weight for America in the MME (Muslim Middle East). I'm sure there's a plethora of Israeli provided eyes-only intelligence that hasn't reached public awareness in America but too many Jews have abrogated the USA's support for their country whereby any slack should be given.

Anyone who is interested in this need only do a search on America's Aegis phased array radar systems.

Imagine a stationary (or mobile) radar system that can look over the horizon using a flat, unmoving array of panel-mounted emitters. No moving transponder. No sweeping dish. Just a flat and appropriately angled surface the size of your living room floor or slightly larger.

The basic concept derives from having several thousand small-scale intermediate level radar emitters all mounted in a fixed co-planar array surface that utilizes high precision computer control to time the exact interval of emission from each transducer.

Using the properties of attenuation and impedance as related to alternating currents, phased array radar systems can steer the overall output beam from a fixed emitter matrix by way of incredibly timed signal transmission to each of the array's transmitters.

This allows the "focus" of such radar systems to be steered much like the magnetic coils of a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) yoke direct the electron beam that scans most monitor screens.

American technological know-how is responsible for creating the vast majority of these incredible systems and everyone who shelters beneath their benevolent surveilance should French-kiss their doormat that our tax dollars were spent so well.

Anonymous said...

Zenster, Pollard was a bad American, not Israeli. Also, I don't know which came first, Israeli double-dealing toward America or American double-dealing toward Israel. I wouldn't trust that many American or Israeli politicians to protect Israel. However, it seems to me that the last few American administrations have been downright untrustworthy toward Israel...something to do with being too friendly with Arabs, and the unwillingness to clean up the State Department.

I'm reassured after reading Carl in Jerusalem's take...he has misgivings but thinks it's good, on the whole. I just wish some red-blooded Israeli military types, not politicians, could participate in this. If this new system is run by the same people who run the "peace process"...well, there just may be a problem.

Zenster said...

latté island: Pollard was a bad American, not Israeli. Also, I don't know which came first, Israeli double-dealing toward America or American double-dealing toward Israel.

While Pollard may have been an American he was still turned by Israeli agents. Israel needs America far more than we need them. Furthermore, Israel, as a whole, has shown extremely bad faith in selling advanced military technology to our very worst enemies, like communist China.

While Bush's Saudi arse-kissing is disgusting in the extreme, Israel still needs to toe the line with respect to this espionage crap. They continue to whore themselves to the highest bidder while compromising America's national security in the process and that's intolerable.

Another note about phased array radar. Both Russia and China field similar systems although they are far less effective. The reason for this is that the ability to simultaneously track dozens of small fast-moving objects at great distance means diddly squat without ultra-high-speed computational processing to analyze the torrent of data that emerges from the detector array.

Only the Japanese come remotely close to America's prowess in supercomputing. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the late Seymour Cray for his development of the supercomputer.