The US Government on Tuesday said it approved the sale to Israel of 25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft built by Lockheed Martin Corp and an option for 50 more in coming years – a deal valued at up to $15.2 billion. The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees major arms sales, said the deal is vital to US national security interests to assist Israel as it develops and maintains “a strong and ready … … More
According to the report, quoting American and German sources, more than a dozen aircraft, including C-5s and C-17s, helped with the September 21 delivery of the AN/TPY-2 Transportable Radar Surveillance/Forward Based X-band Transportable (FBX-T), its ancillary components and some 120 US European Command (EUCOM) personnel to the Nevatim Air Base in the Negev.
The Raytheon-built FBX-T system is the same phased-array radar that was deployed to northern Japan with the US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) in 2006, the report said. The high-powered, high-frequency, transportable X-band radar is designed to detect and track ballistic missiles soon after launch.
Among the US personnel is at least one representative from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), though officials said the agency had little to no say in the deployment decision. MDA involvement has been confined to providing equipment and advice on technical aspects of its deployment, one official told Defense News.
Its ancillary gear included cooling systems, generators, perimeter defense weaponry, logistics supplies and dozens of technicians, maintenance specialists and security forces to operate and defend the US installation.
According to the report, EUCOM has repeatedly deployed troops and Patriot air defense batteries for joint exercises and Iraq-related wartime contingencies, but has never before permanently deployed troops on Israeli soil.
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Huge US Air Force C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Gobemaster III transports have ferried the high-powered FBX-T anti-missile radar to Israel’s Nevatim Air Base south of Beersheba. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the transportable radar surveillance/forward-based X-band radar was accompanied by some 120 American European Command personnel. The area of its deployment at the Negev base has been fenced off and made off-limits to non-American personnel.
This is the first time an Israel Defense Forces facility housing an American weapons system has been closed to Israeli military.
The X-band radar has been deployed with cooling systems, generators, perimeter defense weaponry and dozens of technicians and security forces to operate and defend the installation.
The Raytheon system can detect a flying object the size of a baseball at a distance of 4,700 km, fix on its speed and trajectory and convey the data to the Israeli Arrow anti-missile battery. This equals detecting an Iranian Shehab-3 ballistic missile 5.5 minutes after its launch, which means that it is picked up halfway on its 11-minute flight from Iran to bomb targets in Israel, adding precious minutes to Israel’s response time for incoming missile attacks.
Israel has furthermore been given improved access to US satellites capable of identifying missiles at the instant of their launch. Israel will now be directly linked to the satellites – albeit through the US Joint Tactical Ground Station – JTAGS in Europe.
Commenting on the FBX radar deployment, a Pentagon source said: First, we want to put Iran on notice that we’re bolstering our capabilities throughout the region, and especially in Israel. But just as important, we’re telling the Israelis, ‘Calm down; behave. We’re doing all we can to stand by you and strengthen defenses.’”