As I reported in the Reader in August, Illinois congressman Mark Kirk was so eager to see the United States provide Israel with a state-of-the-art missile-tracking radar system that he announced a deal between the two countries weeks before the Pentagon wanted to talk about it. 

The X-band radar has now been deployed in Israel — a year ahead of schedule –along with a 120-person support team, and the Pentagon is finally saying so.

A story from the Israeli daily Haaretz posted on Kirk’s Web site calls the deployment an “initiative” by Kirk and says the purpose of the system, which will operate in conjunction with American satellites and Israeli interceptor missiles, is to shield Israel from Iranian attack.

The system will be operated in the Negev by American military personnel, whom Haaretz says will constitute the first permanent American military presence in Israel. This must help explain why Washington hasn’t wanted to call attention to what’s it’s doing.