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Friday, January 5, 2007

Israel seeks operational link with U.S. missile defense system

Last update - 10:46 03/01/2007   

Israel seeks operational link with U.S. missile defense system
By Aluf Benn and Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondents

Israel wants to increase the likelihood of the U.S. deploying emergency missile defense systems within Israeli territory.
The heads of the Homa anti-missile project in the Defense Ministry asked the U.S. Department of Defense about two months ago for information on two advanced defense systems being developed in the U.S.: The ground-based Theater High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, and a new model of the Aegis naval defense system.
According to a Defense Ministry source, the request for information was aimed at promoting the possibility of an "operational link" between the Israeli and U.S. defense systems, as a continuation of an ongoing project.
The U.S. Army has deployed Patriot missile batteries in Israel on a number of occasions. The American-made missiles were integrated into Israel's anti-aircraft and ground-to-ground missile defense systems and were used in exercises in combination with Israel's Arrow missile system.
The Defense Ministry source said that development and manufacture of Arrow missiles will continue over the coming years.
"The Arrow is a good system," the source said, "its performance is good and we are satisfied with it. We do not intend to halt development and manufacture and intend to continue to develop the Arrow's capabilities in accordance with the security threats."
The request for information from the U.S. was intended, according to the same source, "in the event that the American systems are deployed in Israel for reinforcement.
"We want to be there, as the American systems go into service, in the event that a foreign-policy decision is taken to deploy them in Israel, as happened in the past with the Patriot missiles.
"We want to know what they are developing and have asked for performance data, but it is classified information and a special permit is needed in order to receive it."
The Homa development team, headed by Aryeh Herzog, also requested, inter alia, to link the radar warning on the Aegis ships to the Israeli defense apparatus, in time of need.
Defense Ministry officials are currently waiting for an American response to the request for information.

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