The Reason Israel Won't Go Alone Against Iran May Be This Single Piece Of US Equipment

Army Navy Transportable Surveillance RadarAn X-Band radar like the one pictured here is set up in southern Israel

Photo: Missile defence Agency

The only foreign troops stationed in Israel are from the United States  and their job is to oversee an exceptional piece of radar that could save thousands of Israeli lives.Karl Vick and Aaron J. Klein at TIME share a profile on the U.S. radar station that’s making a “compelling argument against any notion that the Jewish state will launch an attack on Iran without the United States.”

Tucked away on Mt. Keren in the Negev Desert, one hundred U.S. service members are assigned to an unmarked Israeli military installation, where a powerful X-Band radar is fully operational.

“The technicians are recognisable by the protective suits they wear to shield them from the extraordinary amounts of radiation generated by the no less extraordinary apparatus the base is built around,” reports TIME.

The X-Band radar — formally known as the Army Navy Transportable Surveillance Radar (AN/TPY-2) by Raytheon — is a bastion of missile defence should Iran dare to strike Israel.

Just see how it’s described:

The small, rectangular-shaped portable radar peeking around a concrete blast wall is so advanced it can see over the horizon, and so sensitive it can spot a softball tossed in the air from 2,900 miles away. (Tehran is a mere 1,000 miles away to the northeast.) On Mt. Keren, the X-band radar is indeed pointed northwest, toward Iran, where it could detect a Shahab-3 missile launched toward Israel just seconds into its flight — and six to seven minutes earlier than Israel would know from its own radar, called Green Pine.

We previously reported on the deployment of U.S. troops and the radar system to Israel, which went pretty much unnoticed in 2008. What’s set up now in the Negev desert is a very sophisticated system that is guarded quite jealously by the U.S. — the Israeli military isn’t privy to all the data that is collected. 

“We share a lot, but there’s a valve on the pipeline, and it’s a one-way valve,” said a Western military official involved in the program to TIME.

Essentially, this forces Israel to be dependent on the Pentagon and its resources.

“It’s a very sophisticated, eye-watering type of system, with a very powerful capability of precision,” he continued. 

So precise, he likens its capability to being able to “hit a spot on a bullet.”

Soldiers monitor radarSoldiers at Hickham Air Force Base monitor a AN/TPY-2 system

Photo: U.S. Army

Information from the radar is analysed by American technicians on site and then forwarded to the U.S. Missile defence Agency (MDA) in California.

Israeli commanders aren’t alerted about anything unless MDA computers detect a hostile missile from the data feed. That’s when interceptors and surface-to-air defence systems come into play.

The Pentagon is eager to assist Israel’s national security programs, particularly in the area of missile defence.

Israel’s “game-changing” Iron Dome interceptor is mostly funded by the U.S. and it’s recently been used to counter rocket attacks from the Gaza strip.

Despite some failures, its successes have prompted Congress to offer more funding to Israel’s procurement of more hardware.

You can read more about the Negev military installation here.

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