Iron Dome battery 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Israel and the US were slated to hold a joint missile-defense drill on Sunday morning.
The biennial exercise is designed to test the ability of joint operations between the two nations in response to missile attacks.
Some 1,000 American soldiers arrived in Israel for the drill, Israel Radio reported.
On Thursday, it was announced that the Israeli and American air forces had began a joint exercise, which is expected to last until next week. The IDF released no additional details about the drill.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met last week with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and other Israeli officials to discuss regional security issues. In his meeting with Netanyahu, Hagel reiterated the Obama administration’s commitment to deter Iran from gaining nuclear weapons capabilities.
The US defense chief stressed in his meeting with the prime minister that American support for Israel is currently at “an all-time high.”
“America’s commitment to Israel’s security is resolute,” Hagel stated. “The United States’ support for Israel is anchored in our nations’ commitment to democracy and freedom.”
In March a US general proposed that Israel upgrade its anti-missile systems to include neighboring Jordan and possibly Egypt.
The two Arab countries that have full peace treaties with the Jewish state share some of its concerns regarding the disputed nuclear program of Iran and the civil war wracking Syria – both states with longrange missile arsenals.
Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba is also under threat from short-range rockets fired by Islamist terrorists in the largely lawless Egyptian Sinai, though they have more regularly targeted the next-door Israeli resort of Eilat.
Brig.-Gen. John Shapland, chief defense attaché for the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, raised the idea of extending Israel’s anti-missile umbrella in comments to a security conference in the city.
“If we were able to build a regional defense capability in, say, Jordan, that capability could easily defend Israel, Jordan and even Egypt, if you so desired, adding one more layer to your multi-layered defense,” he told Israeli officials and experts gathered at the INSS think tank.
The United States has extensively underwritten Israel’s two deployed missile interceptors – the Arrow II ballistic- missile interceptor and Iron Dome shortrange rocket interceptor – as well as others in the works, and allowed their integration with US counterpart systems.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.