The Obama administration had promised to build Israel a state-of-the-art facility to house a new ballistic-missile defense system, the Arrow 3. As with all Defense Department projects, detailed specifications were made public so that contractors could bid on the $25 million project. The specifications included more than 1,000 pages of details on the facility, ranging from the heating and cooling systems to the thickness of the walls.
“If an enemy of Israel wanted to launch an attack against a facility, this would give him an easy how-to guide. This type of information is closely guarded and its release can jeopardize the entire facility,” said an Israeli military official who commented on the publication of the proposal but declined to be named because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the facility. He declined to say whether plans for the facility have been altered as a result of the disclosure.
“This is more than worrying, it is shocking,” he said.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Wesley Miller said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the Arrow 3 base, but he said the United States routinely published the details of its construction plans on a federal business opportunities website so that contractors could estimate the costs of jobs. He said such postings often might be revised after contracts were approved.
Israeli officials appear to have been well aware of the danger of outsourcing building projects to the United States. In an interview with the Reuters news agency in March, Lt. Col. Peleg Zeevi, the head of the bidding process at Israel’s Defense Ministry, justified Israel’s long history of relying on the United States to help build military installations by saying that Israel needed “a player that has the knowledge, ability and experience.”
“We are aware of the security issues that arise in deals with foreign firms, but because we want real competition and expertise, we will create conditions that will allow and encourage their participation,” Zeevi said.
It appears, however, that Israeli officials were caught by surprise that details of the facility at Tel Shahar, classified so top secret that Israel’s military won’t officially confirm its location between Jerusalem and Ashdod, would be made so public.
Jane’s Defence Weekly first wrote about the bidding documents, citing them in a story in which it recounted details of the Arrow 3, a defense system designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside the Earth’s atmosphere that’s expected to become operational in 2015.
According to the bid requests, the Arrow 3 system will include six interceptors in vertical launch positions to be placed in the facility, and a gantry crane would need to be erected for further missiles. The structures encasing the interceptor system are to be constructed from high-grade concrete reinforced with steel mesh grids. They’ll have steel blast doors and a system to protect electrical wiring from the pressure created by a launch.
Israeli officials had announced that they were fast-tracking the Arrow 3 system because of their fear that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.