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STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. troops took part in a missile defense exercise in Israel last week that for the first time incorporated a U.S.-owned radar system deployed to the country in October.

About 100 Europe-based troops continue to operate the X-Band radar, which is intended to give Israel early warning in the event of a missile launch from Iran.

While it’s not a permanent assignment for U.S. troops, as long as the radar is in use, U.S. personnel will be there to operate it, U.S. European Command said.

"The actual length of time has not been determined," EUCOM said in a statement. "The U.S. and Israel will continue to monitor the security environment in the region and will base any decisions on radar deployment on a thorough analysis of Israel’s missile defense requirements. We are focused on the mission, not the calendar."

Initially, 120 EUCOM personnel were dispatched in September to set up the Army/Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance system, which was made available at the request of Israel’s government.

A mix of troops and Defense Department contractors manage the day-to-day operation of the radar, which is situated at Nevatim air base in the Negev Desert.

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

Last Monday, Israel conducted a test of an upgraded version of the Arrow anti-missile system that involved shooting down a rocket that simulated Iran’s Shihab missile. The rocket was shot down off Israel’s coastline. This was the first Israeli test to include the U.S. radar.

"The radar is considered to be one of the most powerful defensive systems available and its performance and the performance of everyone on the U.S. and Israel team are doing exceptionally well in promoting regional security and providing a useful deterrent to any attack," EUCOM stated.

The system is reportedly capable of tracking a baseball-size object from a distance of 2,900 miles.

It is expected to enable Israel to more rapidly activate its missile-defense system in the event of an attack.

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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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