Israel receives missile defense batteries from Germany

Special to World
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

TEL AVIV Israel has received two PAC-2 missile defense batteries from Germany.

The PAC-2 batteries were unloaded from the German ship Brake on Monday from the southern port of Ashdod. Last month, Israel signed an agreement with Germany for the lease of the two PAC-2 batteries until 2005.

Officials said the batteries would contain 128 PAC-2 interceptors. They said the batteries and interceptors would be soon deployed to protect strategic facilities around Israel.

The Israel Air Force's air defense command would be responsible for the PAC-2 batteries. Officials said air defense command personnel would operate the batteries.

"Over the next few days, the batteries will be fielded in the areas determined by the Israel Defense Forces for the air defense command," a Defense Ministry statement said. "Thus, they will provide an improved solution, especially in light of the expected U.S. attack on Iraq."

Officials said the military doubts whether it will be able to complete deployment of the German PAC-2 batteries by the time the United States launches a war against Iraq. They said three PAC-2 batteries brought by the United States for a joint missile defense exercise concluded last week remain in Israel. The batteries were to have been taken out of the country for other areas of the Middle East.

Germany has denied an Israeli request for armored personnel carriers that could protect troops from a nonconventional weapons attack. German parliamentarians raised the prospect that the APCs could be used in the war against the Palestinian Authority.

Berlin has also suspended its participation in a project to develop a remote-sensing satellite. Israeli officials confirmed that Germany has ended its support to David satellite program, launched in 1995, amid complaints in Berlin's parliament that this could be used by Israel for military espionage.

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