New radar gives Israel ‘extra time’ to prepare for missile attacks

By Yaakov Katz, October 3, 2008
An American radar system capable of detecting Iranian missiles from thousands of kilometres away and providing the IDF with critical minutes to prepare for an attack arrived in Israel last week.
The radar system was brought to Israel on 12 transport planes, together with a crew of 120 soldiers who will assemble and activate it in the Negev.
The high-powered radar is called the FBX-T and will be hooked up to the US military's Joint Tactical Ground Station which tracks ballistic missiles around the world. The data will be processed and transferred to an IDF command centre where the Arrow missile system is operated.
The FBX-T can detect a ballistic missile shortly after launch and estimates the time and exact location of its impact. Those capabilities will cut the Arrow's response time.
Israel believes that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon and will obtain the capability by the end of the decade. The decision to deliver the radar to Israel was made during a visit by Defence Minister Ehud Barak to Washington DC in June.
"This is an extremely advanced system and only three exist in the world," said Yiftah Shapir, head of the Middle East Military Balance Programme at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
The Arrow's radar - called Green Pine - has a range of 900km in comparison to a FBX-T's 2,000km range.
"It is capable of differentiating between different missiles and decoys and will provide the IDF with critical minutes to respond," he added.
Each radar costs between $200-$300 million (£111m-£166m) although Israel has received it for free. Israeli soldiers will not be allowed for the time being to operate the radar.
According to Mr Shapir, the decision to deploy the radar was the US's way of telling Israel that it was opposed to a military strike against Iran.
"Giving Israel a radar system is the American way of saying ‘we will help you defend yourselves but we want you to sit quietly and not to attack Iran'," he explained.
Last updated: 4:46pm, October 2 2008