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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

U.S.-Built $25-Million Base for Israel’s Arrow 3 ABM, Built to Counter Iran

by Richard Silverstein on June 4, 2013

Jane’s article reveals
jane's defense weekly arrow 3
Sdot Micha as new Arrow 3 base
Last December, Walter Pincus reported in the Washington Post that the U.S. government was building a new base for the IDF.  A highly-placed Israeli source informed me that the location of the secret base was Sdot Micha (also known as Tal Shahar), which already houses Israel’s Jericho 3 nuclear missiles.

It is located near Beit Shemesh, 15 miles from Jerusalem.  The source also informed me that the new facility was to be hardened and underground to withstand a nuclear attack.  This means that Israel expects the site to be attacked by Iranian missiles once that country has nuclear capability.

Now, the defense publication Jane’s Defense Weekly says that the new base will house Israeli’s most advanced anti-missile system, the Arrow 3, which has a 1,500 mile range.  It is an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) which is designed to intercept any Iranian missiles that might attack Israel.  The article notes there will be four new launchers each containing six “interceptors.”  Meaning Israel could launch up to 24 Arrow 3′s and use its Arrow 2 arsenal to hit any targets that were missed.

Building this base presumes a development that has, by all accounts, not happened and may never happen: that Iran is developing not just a nuclear weapon, but a delivery system for it that would allow it to attack Israel.

arrow 3
Arrow 3 missile launch
The plan is for the Army Corps of Engineer project to be completed by 2014.  The Jane’s article says Israel plans to have the Arrow 3 operational by 2015, which would mean that Israel may believe Iran could have such a missile and weapon by then.  That, of course, is a dubious proposition.  But many Israeli military calculations are built on such dubious assumptions.

The Israeli military is livid that these plans have been published (in truth, they were published last December, so I’m not sure why anyone is stewing now).  In Israel, they would be considered state secrets and kept under lock and key.  Israelis don’t understand that in America, when you plan to spend $100-million, unless you’re the CIA or NSA, you have to do so in a transparent way.  You can’t build ABM bases without anyone knowing.  That’s the difference between a national security state and a real democracy.

Jane’s says the U.S. is anticipating the project will cost up to $25-million.  But Pincus wrote last December the expense would be $100-million.  So either they scaled down this project or this is but one stage of it and more development is expected.  My bet is on the latter and that Israel plans a far more extensive Arrow 3 presence than just this facility. More>>
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