US Extends NATO Interceptor Missile System Into Persian Gulf – Analysis


The July 17 edition of the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. is establishing an interceptor missile radar station in Qatar, citing unnamed American officials.

When operational, the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance – Model 2 (AN/TPY-2), what its manufacturer Raytheon describes as “the world’s most advanced mobile radar,” will be based in Qatar, analysts cited by the Wall Street Journal said, because the state is host to the largest American air base in the Persian Gulf, the Al Udeid Air Base. An estimated 8,000 U.S. troops are stationed there and at another Qatari base.

Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf

The radar will be linked up with the same model X-band radars deployed in Israel in 2008 and activated in Turkey in January of this year.

The AN/TPY-2 radar deployed to Israel’s Negev Desert was accompanied by 120 personnel from the U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, the first long-term basing of foreign service members in the host country’s history. The radar has a range of 2,900 miles/4,300 kilometers.

Its equivalent in the eastern Turkish province of Malatya is part of the NATO continental European missile shield, though staffed and operated by the Pentagon.

The three radar deployments describe a crescent to the west of Iran.

The only other AN/TPY-2 deployed is in Japan, where it was sent in 2006. The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency reports that seven AN/TPY-2s have been produced and three more are currently in production. The destinations for the six not already deployed have not been revealed.

The radar system was designed to support the U.S. Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor missile system, though is now being activated to also work in conjunction with the U.S. Navy’s Standard Missile-3 interceptors, both the current ship-based models and the planned land-based versions to be stationed in Romania, Poland and as yet unidentified or undisclosed locations in the next few years.

On Christmas Day last year the U.S. formalized a $3.48 billion arms agreement with the United Arab Emirates which includes selling the Persian Gulf state two Lockheed Martin-produced THAAD batteries, with 96 interceptor missiles, worth $1.96 billion; a $582.5 million contract awarded to Raytheon to produce two AN/TPY-2 radars; and a related Pentagon deal to produce two additional AN/TPY radars worth as much as $363.9 million.

The THAAD missiles deployed to the United Arab Emirates will be the first based outside the U.S., as the only other battery in operation (with two AN/TPY-2 radars) is at Fort Bliss, Texas. They will be integrated with, in addition to the AN/TPY-2 radars in Qatar and Israel, Patriot missile batteries in several Persian Gulf Arab states and U.S. guided missile cruisers and destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors deployed to the area as needed.

The AN/TPY-2 sent to Israel four years ago in September was employed for the Juniper Cobra 10 joint U.S.-Israeli large-scale interceptor missile exercise, unprecedented in scope and intent, which test-fired four missile defense systems and their interceptor components – Israeli-U.S. Arrow 2 and U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3, Standard Missile-3 and THAAD missiles – in the largest joint U.S.-Israeli exercise ever held and the most ambitious, and aggressive, interceptor missile drills held to date.

Juniper Cobra 10 began the month after the Barack Obama administration unveiled its Phased Adaptive Approach interceptor missile program, one which  substituted for the previous administration’s plans for ten Ground-based Midcourse Defense missiles in Poland and a radar site in the Czech Republic, both to be bilateral arrangements, a “stronger, smarter, and swifter” – Obama’s words – system that would cover all of NATO territory in Europe and be a NATO project.

At this May’s summit in Chicago, NATO announced initial capability for the missile system with the establishment of a command and control center at the American air base in Ramstein, Germany, the deployment of the Standard Missile-3-equipped guided missile cruiser USS Monterey to the Mediterranean Sea and the activation of the AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey.

But the third component, the deployment of a forward-based X-band radar, had, as noted earlier, already been achieved with the missile radar installation in Israel in 2008 which was inaugurated during Juniper Cobra 10.

During the close of the missile exercises the Jerusalem Post cited Pentagon officials stating they would “be used by the US Defense Department to help formulate a new NATO missile shield for Europe.”

America’s leading news agencies reported the same information during the course of the war games.

October 22, 2009

“A major air defense exercise launched with Israel this week will help the United States craft its European missile shield, a U.S. commander said…Featuring in the three weeks of maneuvers is Aegis, a U.S. Navy anti-missile system that the administration of President Barack Obama plans to deploy in the eastern Mediterranean as the first part of a missile shield for Europe announced last month.”

Associated Press
October 27, 2009

“A U.S. military officer said Tuesday that a major missile defense exercise staged by American and Israeli forces will help the development of a planned NATO missile shield for Europe.”

The officer in question explicitly stated, “We’re going to learn a lot of lessons here that will definitely apply to that later system.”

United Press International
October 30, 2009

“On a wider perspective, what the Americans learn from these complex exercises will help shape a NATO defense shield for Europe.”

The Jerusalem Post added:

“Results of the Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise staged by Israeli and American forces…will be used by the US Defense Department to help formulate a new NATO missile shield for Europe, senior defense officials said…The drill was also relevant for a potential European missile shield, since the Americans would need to test their systems in different weather conditions.

“[A] new plan under consideration will include the deployment of US navy ships equipped with Aegis missile defense systems to form a front line in the Mediterranean Sea alongside a few land-based missile systems in Europe.

“The Americans are currently considering which land-based system to use. NATO is pushing for the SM-3, the missile that is the backbone of the Aegis ship-based system, but the US military will likely review other systems as well, including Israel’s Arrow and Arrow 3, development of which began recently and which is being funded by the [Obama] administration.”

Juniper Cobra 10 will be superseded by this October’s Austere Challenge 12 joint exercise in October which will combine the Israeli four-tiered Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 system with the U.S.’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3, Standard Missile-3 and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense counterparts.

The increasingly advanced, stratified, integrated global interceptor missile grid being developed by the U.S. and its NATO allies and partners is in no manner intended to be defensive in nature. Rather it is designed to neutralize the deterrence capabilities of other nations, their ability to fire missiles in retaliation for first-strike attacks, thereby heightening the threat of such attacks being launched.

Rick Rozoff

Rick Rozoff is a journalist and blogger and many of his articles may be found at the Stop NATO blog.

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