STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. radar recently deployed to Israel to help it defend against a potential missile attack from Iran is in the midst of final tests and will soon be operational, according to a spokesman for the U.S. European Command mission.

The radar was delivered to Israel in September and is reported to be capable of tracking a baseball-size object from a distance of 2,900 miles. It is intended to help Israel by enabling it to more rapidly activate its missile defense system in the event of an attack.

Army Maj. Bryan Woods, a spokesman for the U.S. military team in Israel, said the radar should be operational by mid-December.

"There has been a lot of work involved," Woods said. "It’s been a joint effort in making it come together. They (the Israelis) are very confident in the system and are happy to have it in their country."

The anticipated activation of the radar comes at a time when concerns continue to mount about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Iran has produced enough nuclear material to produce, after additional purification, a single atom bomb.

The EUCOM mission involves 120 U.S. military personnel, including soldiers, airmen and Marines.

After the radar is operating, management and operation of the project will be handed over to Defense Department contractors, which will allow the troops to return to their units in Europe, Woods said.

"The radar will remain U.S.-owned and -operated," Woods said.

The Army/Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance system is situated at Nevatim air base in the Negev Desert. Though it was delivered to Israel in late September, the radar was scheduled to deploy to Israel in 2009 for a training exercise.

According to the military, the radar is purely defensive and useful against medium- and long-range ballistic missile attacks. The equipment was provided at the request of the Israeli government to improve their defensive capabilities, according to EUCOM.

U.S. units involved in the mission:■ 357th Air Missile Defense Detachment, U.S. Army

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

■ Fleet AntiterrorismSecurity Team, U.S. Marine Corps

■ 86th ContingencyResponse Group, U.S. Air Force

■ 831st Logistics Readiness Squadron, U.S. Air Force

■ 5th Signal Command, U.S. Army

■ Missile Defense Agency

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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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