Tag Archives: THAAD

X-Band: Israel Links To Global US Ballistic Missile Defense Network

GW Bush’s Gift to Israel Goes Fully Active.

So sayeth Debka

A ballistic missile fired at Israeli from any spot in the Middle East, be it Iran, Syria or South Lebanon, can now be tracked from launch by top Israeli commanders by means of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense System (ALTBMD) developed to protect NATO forces against missile threat and provided Israel by the United States. [...]

In the last nine months, the US and Israeli armies have carried out two training exercises in the use of this system – first during the big Juniper Cobra 2010 war game last November … just after an intelligence alert that Iran, Syria and Hizballah had doubled their ballistic missile arsenals; again, from June 6-10, when the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Force was anchored 50 miles off Israel’s southern shore. They practiced combined responses to possible Iranian, Syrian or Hizballah attacks on Israel in the event of a war with Iran.

That exercise, dubbed Juniper Stallion 2010, tested command and battle management and combined early warning drills against incoming missiles. The American AN/TPY-2 radar network using X-Band for intercepting ballistic missiles posted on Mt. Keren (in the Israeli Negev opposite the Egyptian border) was linked for the purpose of the exercise to the Europe-based US Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS).

I hope the crew likes Falafel.

The Mobile X-Band Radar

The Mobile X-Band Radar - This is what the Joe's will have setup, along with likely associated Missile Batteries.

The X-band radar was a gift from President Bush before he left office, an effort spearheaded by Congressional Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL). The combined package entails for the 1st time a small permanent contingent of US Armed Forces / Military personnel on station based in Israel, in what is ostensibly a fully enclosed US mini-base, existing within a much larger IAF superbase.

They have brought with them localized air defenses in the form of PAC-3 Patriots. On top of the PAC-3s which Israel already fields, the mobile X-Band arrival and deployment probably means the US has also deployed an advanced THAAD ballistic interceptor battery here as well as backup to Israeli systems, they are usually a package with the radar. That would be newsworthy as well as quite yummy. The THAAD is the US equivalent to the Israeli IAI Arrow-2 missile shield. Systems and deliveries were in September 2008..

The United States has deployed to Israel a high-powered X-band radar aimed at improving its defense against an Iranian missile attack, Defense News weekly reported over the weekend.

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.

While the X-Band radar itself is certainly lovely and VERY handy, and the THAADS are cool too. The critical component isn’t just additional tracking abilities which benefit both Israel and the US regarding ballistic missile launches, but full connectivity to the US Global Network monitoring such launches. That connectivity to the US JTAGS system is the real prize, I wrote about it when the X-Band arrived..

As mentioned, Nevatim is the new IAF / IDF superbase, the new command center for Israel’s air force. Now it also houses a US mini base on site as well the 1st of its kind – a Joint Tactical Ground Station. The system ties all US sat, radar and sensor information together in order to paint a real time view of the full war theater. Useful for spotting & tracking incoming missiles, but also the system used to direct offensive forces on precision strikes, guiding fighters to targets in real time (right to the cockpit as necessary) to take out defenses & missile launchers.

That could be handy indeed it seems not just to report and intercept incoming missiles, but to pre-empt them as well before they launch via strikes. If anything the xband arrival spells coordination, between Israel and US assets in the Gulf, Med, & Red Sea, tying in the US Aegis ABM & THAAD systems across the theatre.

The Obama administration has been quick to claim deep coordination between US military assets & the IDF. It’s true this has been going on, but this plan was hatched under Bush like so many others, and it has been carried out by Sec Def Gates who himself has spanned the administrations. Israel is now tied into the most advanced real time war monitoring system in the history of the world. The haters love to say we have eyes & ears everywhere, as of now they are indeed correct.

A Missile Shield Every Jewish Mother Could Love..

The short range Iron Dome, the medium range David’s Sling, the long range IAF Arrow-2, now combined with the American sea based US Aegis SM-3 ABM cruisers, as well as advanced THAAD American interceptors, rounded out by the latest Patriot PAC-3s; all tied together to the US Global & Space monitoring network. Yikes, that’s A LOT of missile defense. The question is, what did we have to give up?

Kirk who as mentioned spearheaded this effort said it’s not what you think..

[...] “There is no quid pro quo,” he said.

“You mean that the US did not say that in exchange for deploying the X-Band system Israel needs to receive US permission to attack Iran?”

“No, the US made no such demand,” Kirk said.

Let’s pray he was indeed correct. As John Madden might say, the best defense is a good offense.

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UPDATE: Warporn
I realized this post might benefit from video of things exploding!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEenmASmfZ8
Above: FutureWeapons on THAAD, which gives a nice quick overview on layered Missile Defense described in the post.

Missile Zone: Stepped Up Israeli ABM Tests Target Iran (Analysis)

Cross-hairs: Iran

Yesterday Yaakov Katz reported the positive news that Israel’s 3rd tier missile defense system known as Iron Dome had past a milestone by being successfully tested against multiple targets.

The Iron Dome missile defense system successfully intercepted a number of rockets that mimicked Kassam and short-range Grad-model Katyusha rockets in a series of tests the Defense Ministry conducted this week.

Iron Dome, under development by Rafael Defense Systems, is slated to become operational sometime in 2010 and to be capable of intercepting short-range Kassam and Katyusha rockets fired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. The Iron Dome uses an advanced radar that locates and tracks the rocket, which is then intercepted by a kinetic missile interceptor.

“A multilevel defense system is a strategic goal for the State of Israel and will provide a layer of protection against short-range rockets,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. “This will allow the IDF to fulfill its obligation to protect Israel in the best way that it can.” [...]

Questions remain over the 3rd Tier

Despite the fact that Iron Dome itself has been speed developed and is being deployed in the next few months some caution is warranted. The system is not without numerous detractors, and for obvious reasons. The interceptors themselves are not cheap. A stark contrast to the sheer volume of relatively cheap unguided Qassam, Katusha & GRAD rockets it is designed to intercept, estimated to number in the tens of thousands in Lebanon alone.

That being said, Iron Dome may be headed for deployment and will surely be able to protect sensitive sites.. But this particular level of our unique in the world 3 tiered shield will likely be the most porous.

I captured this image of the Iron Dome interceptor last summer, it was the 1st public display of the system in Israel (Photo Haaretz)

I captured this image of the Iron Dome interceptor last summer, it was the 1st public display of the system in Israel (Photo Haaretz)

In the Lebanon War II conflict, there were many days when we saw in excess of 100+ unguided Katusha type rockets launched by Hezbollah at Israeli civilians. During the recent conflict in Gaza we also saw much the same with hundreds of Qassams and the occasional GRAD (20+ KM range) fired toward Israel. Iron Dome is headed in fact first to Gaza for multi-battery deployments. The question I am left with is, since Iron Dome will need to be selective in what it can engage due to cost & volume, I am wondering if the system’s radar can isolate both direction and likely impact on threat launch, in order to selectively target the more high valued projectiles inbound to the densest or most sensitive areas in Israel.

Keep in mind, flight times from launch to impact for the shortest range threats measure in the seconds and come in at under a minute. This leaves me a bit skeptical, I believe Iron Dome will need to be in the future as we move forward, buttressed by other short range interception systems like those used by the Americans to guard their ships. Close-in Gatling / Vulcan type cannons or something similar.

1st Tier will get a workout too

Also in the news this week coming out of the DOD, additional Arrow-2 tests off the California Pacific Coast. The Arrow is of course the joint Israeli American designed anti-ballistic missile system. The 1st of its kind and the 1st to be deployed to shield an entire country from large ballistic & scud type threats. Second generation Arrow-2 batteries have been deployed in Israel for a number of years now.

Last month I wrote that the Iranian Sejil-2, their newest Ballistic Missile (now reportedly already headed for mass production) will pose new challenges to Israel’s 1st tier Arrow shield due to its advancements & speed. Currently, it is a race between Iranian production capacity and Israeli ingenuity. Software and system updates will be required in our current generation Arrows to counter the threat properly. I have little doubt that this more expansive test all the way off the coast of California is part & parcel of that effort.

This is not the 1st Arrow test launching north of LA incidentally, but Debka does a good job filling in some detail regarding this upcoming test’s characteristics..

In a few days, the Israeli anti-missile Arrow system will face the first real test, weather permitting, of its ability to knock out an Iranian Shehab-3 or Sejil II ballistic missile at the outset of its flight toward Israel, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. The test will take place off central California’s Pacific coast.

Lieut. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, said Tuesday, July 14: “The test will allow Israel to measure its advanced Arrow 3 system against a target with a range of more than 620 miles (1,000 km), too long for previous Arrow test sites in the eastern Mediterranean.”

The test will try and engage a target not only upwards of 1,000 km distant but close to its launch. Until now, our military sources report, Arrow tests have been restricted by the small area of the Mediterranean Sea [...]

According to our military sources, this third Arrow exercise from a US site will also examine US-Israeli cooperation in missile interception in the event of an Iranian response to a possible Israeli strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities or an Iranian pre-emptive missile attack on Israel.

General O’Reilly announced that this would be the first full test of the ability of the American and Israeli intercept systems to work together and “provides us the opportunity to have the Patriot system, the THAAD system and the Aegis system all interacting with the Arrow system so that we’re demonstrating full interoperability as we execute this test.”

Joint Operations

Indeed, the interoperability of these systems was a gift from former President Bush in his last year of office, one of several it should be mentioned (here’s looking at you Mr. Obama). It was spearheaded by a Congressional effort led by Congressman Mark Kirk of Illinois (R). The effort culminated with the delivery last year & installation of an American mini base, at the IAF SuperBase – Nevatim. The American base presence, the 1st of its kind in Israel designed to house & operate the fulcrum of this interoperability effort, the American X-Band long range radar.

The X-Band radar, tied into America’s global satellite and nuclear / missile launch detection systems are what pull together the relevant anti-ballistic missile platforms; the older Patriot, brand new THAAD, sea based AEGIS, in conjunction with Israel’s IAF Arrow-2. It is the most comprehensive ABM system on the planet once it can be ironed out fully, making this 1st test of the joint Israeli US systems replicated off the California coast a major step.

It should be mentioned that the Arrow-2 and its under development Arrow-3 big brother are also under consideration for US use, in conjunction with the other American defense systems in defense of the North American continent. Equally, the major components of the Arrow are built by Boeing under contract with finishing in Israel. I mention that because it’s really only at the current iteration of the White House lately where some are so eager to create what they are calling ‘Daylight’ between America & Israel in general, as opposed to celebrating the extraordinary mutual alliance designed to benefit us all in ways we don’t often consider or imagine.

It also belies a common myth regarding Iran, Israel & America

The notion that Israel will ever truly be on its own if it decides to strike at Iran. Even if the USA is adamant against such a strike, even if it threatened punitive action. In my opinion these joint systems irrespective of US feelings would jump into action to intercept the likely incoming Iranian ballistics headed toward Israel, this is nearly a certainty. Tens of billions if not hundreds of them have been spent on these efforts and Missile Defense. This cooperation is also now a bedrock of the US Israel alliance going as far back as Bush I, when Israel in return for the genesis of these agreements did not retaliate against Saddam Hussein in the 1st Gulf War, when he launched some 50 Scud Missiles at Israeli populations & US Patriots were deployed.

There are other exercises involving joint US Israel military platforms and ABM systems on tap as well beyond those we have already seen & this most recent upcoming California test. At the same time, we see Israel clearly racing in order to upgrade, test, and deploy multiple tiers of our fairly unique 3 tier system. Tier-2, known as David’s Sling is designed to intercept medium range missile threats and is also under concurrent development with Iron Dome above. Equally, Israel is publicly & loudly moving naval assets back & forth through the Egyptian Suez Canal, saber rattling both the IDF hardware (Ships & Subs) and joint Israeli-Egyptian cooperation Iran is facing if it does not cease & desist shortly.

Taken in its entirety some things are clear, Israel is following its timelines for massive preparation. At the same time trying to restore some of the leverage lost by the US administration in its engagement strategies – By filling in the American component seemingly missing under the Obama administration, the threat of military action.

While I was capping the images of Iron Dome above, its bigger sister known as David's Sling was also on display for the 1st time. The interceptor is larger and mean looking if I say so myself as far as missiles go.. You can see clearly, it is a 2 stage system meant for larger threats of the Iranian ZelZal type.

While I was capping the images of Iron Dome above, its bigger sister known as David's Sling was also on display. The interceptor is larger and mean looking if I say so myself as far as missiles go.. You can see clearly, it is a 2 stage system meant for larger threats of the Iranian ZelZal type.

The countdown is on

Clearly, if forced we will strike. Every asset and all of Israel’s national efforts are from disparate angles convening toward preventing a nuclear Iran. Currently we are flexing in deterrent and often. But underneath every flex, lies a palpable & painful for the Iranian regime truth. The flexes are always part and parcel or an aspect of development, training, testing, deployment, etc for the real deal.

Testing weapons, resolve, alliances.. Historically these amounts of Israeli preparations have seen devastating results for its enemies, just ask the Syrians or Egyptians. The Iranian regime would be wise I think to take any deal it can, and quickly lest 2010 be one of record for the Islamic Revolution, but for all the wrong reasons.

Missile Threat: Iranian Sejil-2 Will Challenge Israel’s Missile Shield & American Policy (Video)

Iran is progressing at alarming speed

In late 2007, Iran tested a new modified Shahab-3 based ballistic missile known as Ghadr-1. Key elements of the Ghadr were:

  • An improved cone / warhead housing capable of multiple warhead delivery per missile.
  • 2 stages, a liquid fueled booster with a solid rocket fuel second stage.
  • Domestically produced.
At the time I thought that this was going to be the mass production version of Iran’s new missile fleet personally. They had already made such big advancements in the Ghadr compared to the Shahabs, it seemed likely that this entirely domestically produced weapon would be a huge step up and fit Iran’s needs nicely. The addition of the solid rocket fueled top most stage and new cone design would enable the Iranian rocket to carry WMD, which is clearly the goal of Iran’s Nuclear Program – Nuclear Weapons.
Iranian Ghadr-1 on its 1st public display in Iran (AFP)
Iranian Ghadr-1 on its 1st public display in Iran (AFP)

Sejil

Iran successfuly tests the Sejil-2 this past week

Iran successfully tests the Sejil-2 this past week

In late 2008, a mere year later Iran tested the Sejil class of missile. The Sejil is an advanced Ghadr, instead of a liquid fueled base stage the new missile featured two full stages powered by solid rocket fuels. Eliminating the liquid fuel entirely was another huge step. Volatile, unstable, and requiring on site fueling before any launch the graduation from liquid to solid fuel severely ups the ante and threat level of Iranian missiles. Enabling Iran to mass produce, fuel, and safely store vast swaths of nuclear capable long range missiles for protected launches from underground silos, or mobile launching on truck platforms. Equally troubling, the switch allows for faster more stable missile flights.

Sejil-2

Mere months later, now in May 2009 Iran again tested a new missile. Reasons this recent test is all the more provocative include;

  • Further advances in sensors / guidance for accuracy.
  • The culmination of Iran’s drive for a domestically procurable multi stage solid fuel ballistic missile that can be nuclear capable, all produced start to finish within Iran.
  • Joint mockery along with the North Koreans of the President of the United States, and his engagement with rogue regime theories.
  • The push to out-pace Missile Defense.


Video of Iran’s Latest Ballistic Missile Test – Sejil2

Suspect Motives

What alarms me and should engender the same reaction in others is that the Ghadr was well suited for production it seemed. It met the basic needs of Iran for a new superior ballistic missile capable of being mass produced in Iran, a substantial upgrade in every way over their existing missile fleet. Instead, it was only a step along the way to a much more accurate, much faster, and more capable delivery system. This suggests to me that the Iranians don’t seek to deter as much as they seek to eventually do ‘serious damage’ with their missiles and WMD. Instead of racing to build, they raced to make the threat substantially more lethal.

Equally alarming, the pace. Iran is simply put racing ahead. At this rate CIA & Pentagon estimates for the Iranian Missile threats are SERIOUSLY themselves obsolete. I am sorry to say this, but as usual the US intelligence community will seemingly be again ‘surprised’ when they come to grips with how radically off base they are in regards to time-frames and these threats. Iran has in the last year achieved space launch, solid fuel boosters, enhanced accuracy & range which puts these missiles beyond Israel and into Europe, and is now arguably fine tuning an ability to defeat US & Israeli based missile defense platforms with this new Sejil-2 due to its speed and multiple warheads.

President is badly advised & mistaken

American estimates regarding a domestic threat posed by Iranian missiles originally looking at 2025 were narrowed to earliest 2015 by generals at the Pentagon, that’s quite a jump. It means American estimates were a full decade off, by off we mean WRONG. But even this 2015 date now seems conservative. At the rate they are progressing and the crystal clear proliferation path going on between North Korea & Iran, ICBMs from these rogue regimes will very shortly pose a substantial nuclear weapons threat to the world, including American cities.

Further, this habit of being wrong as exhibited by other ‘surprises’ like underground nuclear weapons tests this week, admittedly erroneous Nation Intelligence Estimates for both Iraq, and now also in 2007 regarding Iran’s nuclear program, lead one to naturally assume the odds of America being surprised & wrong again regarding Iranian nuclear weapons capability are also quite high, meaning it could surprise America much faster than is currently thought, estimates which are more in line with Israeli intelligence.

Leisurely Pace

One might think that in light of these realities, in light of the fact that it is now very questionable whether American or Israeli deployed missile defense platforms could currently without advancement themselves counter these faster, more accurate, multiple warhead, mass produce-able, solid rocket missiles – Someone might wake up?

Combined with the speed & pace of Iranian progression and the abysmal track record of western intelligence, one wonders why the President of the United States, his entire administration, and his democratic allies in the US House & Senate are all sitting on their asses & taking their sweet time doing little to nothing? No deadlines, no pressure, no sanctions, missile defense cuts, appeasement – I like many others am wondering what world exactly is President Obama living in, because it is certainly not the real world..

Link Update:

Ed looks at former Sec Def William Cohen, who himself is scratching his head wondering why multiple kill (a counter to multiple warhead missiles) and other missile defense technologies are being cut in Obama’s multi trillion dollar budgets?! Ed himself is focused on Noko tests and launches in the post, but the emphasis on rogue regimes is clear, these Iranian missiles are developed, built & tested based on N. Korean proliferation technology.

In the face of Pyongyang’s intransigence, we should be escalating our missile-defense research and deployment, and make a big show of it.  We should take shots at the next missile Kim launches to make the point; [...]

Indeed, yet somehow I can’t shake the feeling that in this administration there is a higher likelihood we will shortly settle the outer galaxy, than see a US missile defense launch against a rogue regime live test target. Seems like we will have to settle for sending out poor Mrs. Clinton to the podium to make a few short statements in angry diplospeak, couched in calls to return to six party talks. This hardly instills much confidence in America’s allies abroad, I can’t imagine it being any more comforting to Americans themselves.

Israels Arrow-2 was the 1st national & deployed Anti Ballistic Missile Defense System

Israel's Arrow-2 ABM

Next Gen

 

I should add that the hundred million dollars funding package for Israel’s continued Arrow-3 development has been approved by the USA in its current budget framework, maybe jointly we can come up with a more ‘rigorous’ response to these growing threats, one at least hopes.. As mentioned, we will all require advancements in our current systems & software to challenge & out-pace these newest missiles.

SuperBase: Nevatim hosts all sorts of goodies beyond the X-band

Radar joins IAF mother of all bases

The X-band has arrived, along with a large contingent of US personnel in what will be a fully enclosed mini US base complete with PAC-3 air defense. The additon of the X-Band gives a few more minutes lead time for the Hetz / Arrow 2 in Shahab & scud interceptions pushing them out beyond Israel itself and into neighboring atmospheres, extending Israel’s own Green Pine radar system which is welcome.

The x-band radar itself while certainly useful is eclipsed by the second detail, the global network it is hooked up to known as JTAGS which is the US global satellite / radar system for Ballistic Missile launch detection, and ground / strike targeting of related assets. The X-band and ground control station is deployed at the IAF’s new superbase in Nevatim. The IDF facility is about a month old and will house the bulk of the IAF going forward, including strike fighters & transports. It’s quite a consolidation into the heart of the Negev desert featuring some of Israel’s latest & longest air strips, as evidenced by the monstrous C5 Galaxies that brought the US gear and support personnel this week.

Strike prevention? Not so quick there Tanto..

The popular interpretation of the Xband arrival is that it prevents Israel from striking without US permission, that there was some form of quid pro quo given on its delivery. Of course this is nonsense on numerous levels. Firstly Israel would never agree to place its defense solely in the hands of another country USA or not, the notion is absurd. The xband is a bolster to Israel’s missile defense, it is not the end all by far in Israeli defense. It is truly ludicrous to suggest Israel needs permission to carry out its own self defense. The man most responsible for getting the system into Israel and ramping US House support, Congressman Mark Kirk agrees. When asked about this allegation floated in the media primarily by those opposed to strikes this was his response..

[...] “There is no quid pro quo,” he said.

“You mean that the US did not say that in exchange for deploying the X-Band system Israel needs to receive US permission to attack Iran?”

“No, the US made no such demand,” Kirk said.

“The basic idea is that a US ally getting nuked is a bad thing. The X-Band system increases the likelihood that such an attack would fail,” he continued.

Moreover, far from sending a message that the US would work to block an Israeli preemptive attack against Iran, Kirk argued that the deployment of the X-Band system manned by a US crew “will send a message to Iran, that Israel has powerful political support from its ally against any Iranian threat.”

Kirk also argued that the US will support a decision by Israel’s government to attack Iran. As he put it, “If the Israeli government makes the difficult decision [that it must launch a preemptive attack against Iran], that is when Israel will need its allies the most. And that is when the US will be called in to show what it means to have us as an ally.” [...]

History is not on the side of absurdity either

Israel has through historical precedent acted with a US red light, and no light previously. The six day war was totally opposed by the US as a pre-emptive strike, as reported famously from the era. The Osirak Iraqi reactor strike was a surprise to the Reagan administration which opposed the effort (miss ya Gipper), and even the recent Syrian reactor strike was carried out without full blessing according to reports. Not too mention the Lebanon war II which had US support but which rolled far too quickly to suggest any massive US Israeli coordination and quickly devolved to full scale war. If anything Israel seems to chart its own course more often than not. I would chalk this up as yet another wishful dream for those opposing Iranian strikes as a last resort to a nuclear Iran.

Everything a strike package needs in one convenient spot

As mentioned, Nevatim is the new IAF / IDF superbase, the new command center for Israel’s air force. Now it also houses a US mini base on site as well the 1st of its kind – a  Joint Tactical Ground Station. The system ties all US sat, radar and sensor information together in order to paint a real time view of the full war theatre. Useful for spotting & tracking incoming missiles, but also the system used to direct offensive forces on precision strikes, guiding fighters to targets in real time (right to the cockpit as necessary) to take out defenses & missile launchers.

That could be handy indeed it seems not just to report and intercept incoming missiles, but to pre-empt them as well before they launch via strikes. If anything the xband arrival spells coordination, between Israel and US assets in the Gulf, Med, & Red Sea, tying in the US Aegis ABM & THAAD systems across the theatre. This was done to bolster Israel’s strengths and defenses, not tie its hands.