Missile Defense: X-Band Radar to Qatar (July 18, 2012)

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that an AN/TPY-2 X-band radar was being deployed to Qatar.[1]  This is apparently the same radar as the one that the Missile Defense Agency’s August 2011 Program Update said would be deployed to the North Arabian Gulf by the end of 2011.[2]


An AN/TPY-2 radar temporarily deployed near Juneau Alaska for a missile defense test.  The radar antenna is at far right.  The two similarly colored units adjacent to it are for cooling and  electronics.  (Photo source: Missile Defense Agency)

According to the WSJ, the radar’s exact site was secret, but it was being deployed to Qatar because it has the largest U.S. military base in the area, the Al Udeid air base.  Officials said the radar deployment “will complete the backbone of a system designed to defend U.S. interests and allies such as Israel and European nations against rockets from Iran.” They also stated that together with other TPY-2 radars in Israel and Turkey the radar could detect missile launches from northern, western and southern Iran. 

The radar in Qatar would be the fourth deployment of a TPY-2 configured as a forward-based X-band (FBX) radar, after Japan, Israel and Turkey.  Together with six radars for the six currently planned Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) theater missile defense batteries (and one radar for testing/refurbishment) this accounts for all eleven of the TPY-2 radars the U.S. currently has firm plans to buy.  The FBX and THAAD radars are essentially interchangeable, and can be switched from one configuration to the other in less than eight hours.  The U.S. is also selling two TPY-2 radars to the United Arab Emirates (to be delivered by 2015) and is interested in other foreign sales.

The WSJ also reported that construction of the radar site will cost $12.2 million.   A new TPY-2 radar with its associated equipment costs about $180-190 million.

In addition, the WSJ reported that first foreign deployment of a U.S. THAAD battery was expected to the Persian Gulf region, possibly Qatar, in the next few months. 

In a Pentagon news briefing later that day, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little declined to comment on the reported radar deployment.[3]

[1] Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes.  “Pentagon Bulks Up Defenses in the Gulf,” Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2012, p. A1.

[2] Missile Defense Agency, Missile Defense Agency Program Update, August 10, 2011.  Available at: http://www.mda.mil/global/documents/pdf/The_Missile_Defense_Program.pdf.

[3] U.S. Department of Defense, “DOD News Briefing with George Little from the Pentagon,” News Transcript, July 17, 2012.  Available at: http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=5078.


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  1. On 23 August 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. is planning a major expansion of missile defenses in Asia. According to American officials this move is designed to contain threats from North Korea, but one that could also be used to counter China’s military. The planned buildup is part of a defensive array that could cover large swaths of Asia, with a new radar in southern Japan and possibly another in Southeast Asia tied to missile-defense ships and land-based interceptors.

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