May 22, 2007

US-Israeli Anti-Missile Programs to Be Fully Integrated by 2013

From DEBKA-Net-Weekly 294 March 23, 2006, Updated by DEBKAfile

May 22, 2007, 1:06 PM (GMT+02:00)



The US House of Representatives last week allocated another $25 for the Arrow’s joint production and integration; and $45 m for the US-Israeli short-range David’s Sling, which is under development for countering high trajectory projectiles, such as Hizballah’s Katyusha rockets.

US and Israeli anti-missile systems are scheduled to be fully integrated by the year 2013. A further American investment of $1 bn in the Israeli programs will top up the $2.8 bn already spent.

Israel’s defense minister Amir Peretz said on May 19 that he hopes David’s Slling will be ready in two years. This leaves Israel unprotected against the Palestinian Qassam, Hizballah’s Katyusha or mortar attack before 2010.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that had the development of David’s Sling not been interrupted three and a half years ago for lack of funds, the system might have been used against Hizballah’s Katyusha rocket blitz of Galilee last year and the Hamas Qassams now raining down on the Western Negev.

Israel will, however, be armed with the most superior shield available for fending off Iranian and Syrian ballistic missile threats: the Arrow for intercepting incoming missiles at high altitudes; the THAAD to screen broad areas such as cities, air fields, battle arenas or military installations; and the Patriots to snag the missiles which dodge the first two levels.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the integrated counter-missile units were given their first field test in the joint US-Israeli Juniper Cobra exercise held in the Negev in March, 2007. At Washington’s request, a news blackout was imposed on the week-long maneuver, which ended March 20.

Its success was reflected in last week’s congressional approval of appropriations for continuing the integrated programs.

At the same time, Israel must consider the pros and cons for its strategic position of filling a front-line role in the American missile shield planned for the east European countries of Poland and the Czech Republic. Israel is seen to solidly side with America against Moscow with applications for the inter-power contest over influence and oil and gas markets in the Middle East and Central Asia. This contest is beginning to be called “Cold War Two.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin has made his campaign against the deployment of US interceptor missiles in East Europe the main theme of his foreign policy and confronted Washington with an ultimatum: if the US goes through with the deployment of missiles in Poland and radar stations in the Czech Republic, Moscow will develop missiles capable of busting them.

In a fresh arms race between America and Russia focusing on anti-missile interceptors, Israel as an integral component of the US system could find itself threatened by Moscow’s sales to Iran and Syria of hardware designed to knock out its own anti-missile defenses.

What Israel’s military planners fear most is the Russian Iskander E, which has a range of 200 km, pinpoint precision, and the ability to evade trackers. Its acquisition enables Syria to launch surprise attacks on Israel’s anti-missile positions and air force bases.

On March 23, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 294 revealed:

1. The US has designated the Israeli-made Arrow anti-missile missile system and its Green Pine radar the first line in its defensive shield against Iranian ballistic missiles. Any incoming missile would have to first outmaneuver the Israeli system located in the Negev before reaching the Europe-based links – 10 interceptors, which Washington plans for Poland and a radar station projected for the Czech Republic - and possibly Georgia too.

The American and Israeli anti-missile deployments are to be integrated to create an inter-operational multilayered air defense system by 2013.

To make this happen, Washington will sink another $1 billion in the Israeli technology on top of the $2.8 billion already invested.

2. The US-Israeli missile defense network is designed not only to intercept Iranian ballistic missiles of 1,300-1,500 km range fired at Europe, but also the short-range Iskander-E short-range ballistic missiles.

This decision was taken after it was discovered that the Iskander-E is designed to outfight key Western ballistic missile defenses, particularly the Patriot Advanced Capability PAC-2/3 low-to-high altitude air-defense system.

The Iskander-E is the export version of the Kolomna-designed 9M72 short-range ballistic missile in current service with the Russian army. Its range is shorter – 280 km compared with the 9M72’s 400 km.

The weapon is essentially an improved version of the old Soviet Scud plus the latest advances in propulsion, guidance and computerized systems.

The Iskander-E’’s pinpoint accuracy and short preparation time are seen by the US and Israel as posing a greater threat than its range or payload. For the first time, Syria has a missile with a solid propellant capable of mounting an effective surprise attack on the Air Force bases and military command centers of northern and central Israel, though not the south – a far cry from the Scud with its liquid propellant and lengthy and clumsy launch preparations.

With a CEP (Circular Error Probable: a measure of missile accuracy) of a few meters, individual aircraft shelters and high value military installations could be effectively targeted.

The Iskander might well encourage Damascus to believe that a surprise attack against US bases in Iraq, Israel and Turkey could be successful.

3. The United States and Israel therefore have more in mind than a defense system against an Iranian ballistic threat to Europe. They do not rule out Moscow’s potential for one day creating the same kind of integrated missile and missile defense system with Iran and or Syria, as the one the US has formed with Israel.

During his Middle East tour in February Russian president Vladimir Putin made no secret of his challenge to American superpower status in the Arab world by offers of advanced weapons sales, nuclear technology and diplomatic espousal.

To re-establish Russian positions in the Middle East, Putin is wooing both radical and conservative governments, Sunni and Shiite alike. The Russian president invited all and sundry to follow Syria’s example and shop for Russian missiles.

The Juniper Cobra exercise of March 2007, the fourth of the two-yearly series, was meant as a discreet signal to Moscow, as well as to its past and future customers - especially Syria - that even before their deployment, the Russian-made missiles on sale have already been outmaneuvered by the US defense systems in position to shoot them down.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Moscow sources report that the Kremlin and top Russian brass greeted the signal with fury. They perceive the Negev maneuver as an American move to check Russia’s drive for restored Middle East status and spoil its weapons export trade.

They have responded with a threat to equip Russia’s European embassies with systems capable of following US and NATO movements in the continent. It was spelled out Monday, March 19, by Col. Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, commander of Russia’s Space Forces.

He said space monitoring systems in Russian embassy compounds in several countries would track the launches of ballistic missiles abroad. In an interview to the Pace Technology News magazine, Popovkin said quantum-optical equipment posted at the embassies would pick up launches undetectable from Russian territory and adjust the trajectories of missile “killer vehicles” to a potential threat.

The Russian general accused the Americans of seeking not just a missile shield against Iran but the means of monitoring all ballistic missile launches in the European part of Russia and from Northern Fleet submarines, and knocking them out as soon as they took off.

“If the United States genuinely wanted protection from Iranian missiles, those defenses would have been stationed in Turkey, also a NATO member,” Popovkin said.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources comment that defenses based in Turkey would only cover missile launches from northern Iran and only protect southern Europe. They would not block attacks from southern Iran against Israel.

What Juniper Cobra demonstrated was that Washington was not even willing to work with Israel on a shield against Iranian and Russian missiles.

On Feb. 27, John Rood, US assistant secretary for international security and non-proliferation, spoke in general about American-Israeli cooperation in defense against missiles in an address to the 8th Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Missile Defense Conference.

He commented: “The rationale for such deployments as detailed in US Defense Department analysis has concluded that Poland and the Czech Republic are the good locations to provide protection for much of Europe and the United States from the evolving Middle East ballistic missile threat. Assuming our negotiations are successful, we hope to begin major construction in these countries in 2008 and to begin missile defense operations by 2012. These missile defense assets would be integrated with existing radars in Fylingdales, UK and Thule, Greenland, as well as the US ground-based mid-course defense system consisting of, for example, existing missile defense interceptors located in California and Alaska.

Fylingdales in Yorkshire is a long-range radar station, which forms part of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) and Space Surveillance Network (SSN). Fylingdales was the third and last of the BMEWS ”golfball” stations to be built during the Cold War. The first two are at Thule, Greenland and Clear, Alaska.

Officials in Jerusalem noted that John Rood, while listing America’s missile monitoring assets everywhere else, carefully omitted mention of the Israel-made Arrow’s Green Pine radar system and its integration in the US chain of defenses for Europe as the first line of defense against Iran’s ballistic missiles.

No comments: