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Iraq said to be seeking anti-stealth radar


From Correspondent Carl Rochelle

November 11, 1997
Web posted at: 8:53 p.m. EST (0153 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sources say that Iraq is attempting to buy five Czech-made radar systems designed to spot stealth aircraft like the U.S.-made F-117 fighter and B-2 bomber.

F-117s led the air raids on Baghdad during the Gulf War, dropping bombs that helped destroy Iraq's air defense network. Because it lacked the technology to detect the stealth aircraft, Iraq was literally blindsided by the attacks.

Reports that the Iraqis are trying to buy the Czech radar systems brought a categorical denial from Vaclav Klaus, prime minister of the Czech Republic.

"Nonsense," Klaus said Tuesday. "I would like to say, quite formally and clearly, that my government would never allow something like this."

Sources say Iraq would try to get around a U.N. ban on weapon sales to it by using a Bulgarian arms dealer and falsifying the actual destination of the radar systems.

But the sources say that even if Iraq manages to acquire the anti-stealth radar, it would not pose a major threat to the F-117 and the B-2 because the technology is not that sophisticated.

U.S. prepared for any contingency

The U.S. military, meanwhile, says it is prepared for any contingency should the standoff between the U.N. and Iraq come to the use of force.

"We have a variety of aircraft carriers and battle groups that could be moved into the area, should that be necessary, and they could be moved relatively quickly," said U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen. "We hope that that will not be necessary, but if it should be necessary, then obviously we'd consider that."

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz is already in the Persian Gulf, where its planes are helping patrol the no-fly zone. Pentagon sources say the carrier USS George Washington, currently in the eastern Mediterranean, could be moved into the Red Sea if events warrant it.

The USS George Washington

The sources also say that additional weapons, including F-117s and B-1s, could be moved back to the region. But Pentagon officials stress this is all simply contingency planning, and that no decisions have been made.

CNN also learned that another U-2 spy flight is likely before the end of the week. A U-2 flew over Iraq for three hours Monday without incident.

The United Nations told Iraq that it might make U-2 flights at any time during an eight-day period that began Monday. Pentagon officials say the exact time of the flight is decided by the U.N.


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