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STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. military personnel pulled from units across Europe were dispatched to Israel last week to install and operate a radar system designed to bolster Israel’s defenses against a possible missile attack from Iran, EUCOM confirmed Monday.

The U.S. European Command mission involves about 120 people, including soldiers, airmen and Marines, according to a EUCOM spokesman.

"[The radar] was provided at the request of the Israeli government to improve their defensive capabilities," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker, a EUCOM spokesman. "It’s scheduled to be operational in November."

The U.S. military-owned radar system, which requires construction of a foundation to support it and a sizeable staff for operations, will enable Israel’s military to get early warning in the event Iran decides to launch a missile attack.

American military personnel will likely be stationed in Israel for a significant amount of time, though EUCOM stopped short of saying the mission was permanent.

"At this time, the operation of the radar will be by U.S. military personnel," Barker said. "We don’t have a length of time for how long the support will be involved. The folks on the ground are tasked with setting up the radar and operating the radar."

The Army/Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance system will be positioned at Nevatim air base in the Negev desert.

The radar, reportedly capable of tracking a baseball-size object from a distance of 2,900 miles, would be able to lock onto a ballistic missile from Iran shortly after launch. As a result, Israel’s missile defense system could be rapidly activated to intercept incoming fire.

The decision to deploy the radar comes as tensions mount between the West and Iran over its intention to build a nuclear program. Furthermore, Iran has warned that if Israel launched its own attack on the nuclear site, missiles would be fired back at Israel.

The radar system, delivered to Israel on Friday, had been scheduled to deploy to Israel in 2009 for a training exercise, according to EUCOM.

The Israeli military told The Associated Press on Sunday it has "various forms" of cooperation with the U.S. military but that "as a rule we do not detail the content" of the ties. Nonetheless, unnamed Israeli officials also confirmed that the radar system was in the country.

Defense News first reported the deployment of the radar system in its Friday edition.

According to the military, the radar is purely defensive and useful against medium- and long-range ballistic missile attacks.

U.S. military units involved in mission-357th Air Missile Defense Detachment, U.S. Army

-21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army

-Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, U.S. Marine Corps

-86th Contingency Response Group, U.S. Air Force

-31st Logistics Readiness Squadron, U.S. Air Force

-5th Signal Command, U.S. Army

-Missile Defense Agency

Source: U.S. European Command

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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