JERUSALEM — The United States has provided Israel with an advanced radar system that will give it early warning in case of an Iranian missile attack, Israeli officials said Sunday, confirming a new defense tool in what is potentially the Mideast's deadliest feud.
Israel considers Iran its biggest threat, a view reinforced by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.
The radar system, to be run by some 120 accompanying U.S. military personnel, was delivered last week, the Israeli defense officials said. It has been set up temporarily at the Nevatim air base in the Negev desert and will likely be moved to a permanent site in the next few months, they said.
The officials agreed to confirm a U.S. magazine's report that the radar had been delivered only if they were not quoted by name because the Israeli government had not announced the deal.
The Israeli military wound not confirm or deny the report.
Defense News, the weekly that first reported the system's deployment, identified it as a high-powered radar known as FBX-T and said it will be linked to the U.S. military's Joint Tactical Ground Station.
The system, assisted by satellites, can pick up a ballistic missile shortly after launch and estimate the time and location of its impact.
Those capabilities will allow for a greater response time from Israel's Arrow antimissile defense system, which currently works with a less advanced radar.
Ephraim Kam, an analyst at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, called the new radar an "important addition" to Israel's defense.
Kam said the United States is sending a message with the new system that it is "against any attack by Israel on Iran's nuclear facilities at this time but cannot leave us without protection."
Israel, the United States and other nations believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Israel sees an Iranian bomb as an existential threat, given Ahmadinejad's calls for Israel's destruction and his regime's aggressive development of long-range missiles.
Iran denies it is working on atomic bombs, saying its nuclear program has only the peaceful purposes of using nuclear reactors to generate electricity.