American crews will control US FBX-band radar granted Israel

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.
When they swung the deal in Washington last month, Barak and Ashkenazi said the Israeli Defense Forces would acquire a major resource and Israel a valuable shield against enemy missiles.
But they erred badly in failing to demand its integration in Israel’s national interceptor system for four reasons:
1. Israel will have no denied direct access to the data gathered by the system and can only hope the American operators will pass on the information as and when Israel needs it for self-defense rather than when it suits US interests.
2. The FBX-T will not only be able to track Iranian and Syrian missiles and aircraft but also keep watch on Israeli operations, giving the Washington a handle for stalling them. debkafile‘s military sources point out that the Americans are suddenly in a hurry to have the system deployed in the Negev as soon as September. They will then be in position to forestall a possible Israeli pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear installations should one be decided in Jerusalem.
3. US experts say the FBX-T radar will lengthen the Israeli Arrow anti-missile system’s range for detecting incoming Iranian missiles several times over. This is technically accurate, but in practice this enhanced capability is entirely contingent on a Pentagon order to the American crews in the Negev to activate a link between them.
4. Barak and Ashkenazi said on their return from Washington that they had procured US consent to links between Israel’s early warning and missile interceptor systems, the X-band radar (which can pick up a missile 2,000 km from target) and also the American JTAGS satellites (which detects a missile launch).
This is not the case.
Any links between the IDF’s radar and interceptors and the JATG satellites must be channeled through the X-band radar base in the Negev and are not direct. The data passed to Israel will be subject to pre-selection by American decision-makers.
Several billion dollars of US and Israeli funds have been sunk into developing the Arrow, which Israeli officials until recently claimed was a match for Iran’s Shehab-3 ballistic missiles. It turns out now that the Arrow and its Green Pine radar pick up incoming missiles only when they are 800 km short of their target. Israel applied for the FBX-T radar to extend that range to 2,000 km from its territory. But as long as the system is operated exclusively by American personnel, its usefulness for shielding Israel against enemy missiles will circumscribed.

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