Thursday, July 31, 2008

Storm clouds

Another shoe has fallen in what appears to be US preparations for the contingency of an Israeli preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. According to Reuters the administration is poised to approve delivery of a Raytheon FBX-T radar system to Israel within 6 months. This mobile land based missile defense radar has a 2500 nautical mile range. It can detect baseball size objects at this range and incorporates advanced target discrimination technology to sort warheads from dummies and debris. The system allows far earlier engagement times than Israel’s Green Pine radar. This is important because the time of flight of a missile launched from Iran at Israel is only 11 minutes. Its data can be integrated into Israel’s Arrow anti-missile system as well as nearby ship borne US Navy SM-3 missiles. The latter was used to down an errant American satellite this past February. Reuters reports the imminent decision to deploy comes at the urging of a bipartisan group of congressmen.

“Nearly 70 members of Congress, including the top Democrat and Republican on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Bush this week urging him to offer a warning radar that is "fully integrated" with the emerging U.S. shield.”

An earlier sign of trouble brewing was the redeployment in early July of the Abraham Lincoln carrier task group outside of the Straits of Hormuz, instead of its normal stomping grounds in the Persian Gulf. This reduces its vulnerability of being trapped in the Gulf in the event of a conflict. It allows defensive sea room and the ability to maneuver.

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