U.S. may offer Israel powerful new missile radar

Reuters
Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Bush administration appears set to offer Israel a powerful radar system that could greatly boost Israeli defenses against enemy ballistic missiles while tying it directly into a growing U.S. missile shield.

President George W. Bush is expected to discuss the matter during a visit to Israel on Wednesday to mark the country's 60th anniversary amid mounting U.S. concerns about perceived threats from Iran, people familiar with the matter said.

This is "probably the No. 2 issue" on Bush's agenda for the visit, second only to the Middle East peace process, said Rep. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican who has spearheaded calls in Congress for tighter U.S. missile-defense ties with Israel.

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The system Bush may offer is known as a forward-based X-band radar. Transportable by air, it uses high-powered pulsed beams for extremely high-resolution tracking of objects in space such as a missile that could be tipped with a chemical, germ or nuclear warhead. Built by Raytheon Co., the system has been described by U.S. officials as capable of tracking an object the size of a baseball from about 4,700 km away.

It would let Israel's Arrow missile defenses engage a Shahab-3 ballistic missile about halfway through what would be its 11-minute flight to Israel from Iran, or six times sooner than Israel's "Green Pine" radar is currently capable of doing, Kirk said in a telephone interview.

Full article here.

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