Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Missile Defense potpourri

Today I have a brief overview over various missile defense news around the globe:

A large majority of Czechs oppose the U.S. plans to place parts of its missile defense system in their country, figures ranging from low 50s to 70 percent. Yet a recent poll finds that 67 percent of Czechs would accept the planned U.S. radar base on Czech soil if it became integrated into the NATO defense system.

Moving a bit north: the United States seem to be weary of the lack of progress concerning the interceptor base in Poland and the tough conditions set by the Prime Minister Tusk’s government. The most important conditions is that the United States significantly contribute financially to upgrading the Polish armed forces, especially the air defense. This condition - which according to some estimates could cost at least $10 billion to meet because it would involve equipping Poland with Patriot air-defense missiles - has become the single-most contentious issue in the negotiations. A senior U.S. official said last Wednesday that Washington was prepared to seek a different location for part of its planned antiballistic missile shield if the Polish government could not agree on the terms. This statement was commented by the Polish Foreign Minister RadosÅ‚aw Sikorski who said that the government will not interfere if the U.S. should do so. I wonder what Sikorski had in mind how exactly Poland could interfere. Would Warsaw set up an interceptor base of its own – after rejecting the U.S. base – just as a sign of defiance?

It seems that deals with other partners can be easier negotiated: Washington appears set to offer Israel a forward-based X-band radar that could greatly boost Israeli defenses against enemy ballistic missiles while tying them directly into a growing U.S. missile shield. The system has been described by U.S. officials as capable of tracking an object the size of a baseball from about 2,900 miles away.

It would let Israel's Arrow missile defenses engage a Shahab-3 ballistic missile about halfway through what would be its 11-minute flight to Israel from Iran, or six times sooner than Israel's "Green Pine" radar is currently capable of doing.
The Strategypage elaborates further on the radar’s benefits writing that instead of being able to hit a missile warhead that is only about two minutes from hitting a target in Israel, the X-band radar would allow an incoming missile to be spotted and destroyed farther away and with greater certainty.

While the deployment of the radar would certainly significantly increase Israel’s defense capabilities, one thing is rather farfetched. Congressman Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, said that:
This is the best thing to lower tensions between Israel and Iran" because Iran presumably would be less likely to attack under such circumstances.

No comments: