Israel, US to hold massive missile defense drill next year

Exercise aimed at improving operational coordination between countries’ defense systems in face of Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Iranian ballistic missile_311 reuters (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
Iranian ballistic missile_311 reuters
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
In the face of Iran’s continued pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Israel and the United States will hold a large-scale missile defense exercise in the beginning of next year aimed at improving operational coordination between both countries’ defense systems.
Called Juniper Cobra, the exercise will be held in early 2012 and will include the Arrow 2 and Iron Dome as well as America’s THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. The exercise will likely include the actual launching of interceptors from these systems.
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He also said the US was looking to deploy an advanced X-Band radar – similar to the one the US gave Israel in 2008 – in southern Europe.
“Together we can work to protect what our adversaries would put at risk, both now and in the future,” Rose said. “Our mutual commitment to cooperation on missile defense research and development, on deploying proven technologies and weapon systems such as the Arrow, and on gaining operational experience through joint exercises and training, will go far in enhancing Israeli security and our mutual interests, and in further cementing and expanding our partnership.”
Ramati said at the conference that Israel is speeding up the development of the Arrow-3, which is supposed to serve as the upper tier missile defense system against Iranian long-range ballistic missiles.
The Arrow-3 is not expected to become operational until 2015 and the Defense Ministry will hold a first flight test of the new missile by the end of the year.
Col. Shahar Shohat, commander of the Israel Air Force’s Wing, responsible for Israel’s missile defense systems, expressed hope that the country’s enemies will realize that their investment in rockets and missiles is not worthwhile due to the deployment of new defense systems.
“This could happen if they understand that we have effective systems and they will not be able to attack what they want to attack,” he said.
Shohat added that the Iron Dome succeeded in preventing the IDF from needing to enter into a large-scale offensive in the Gaza Strip in April, following an escalation that included an anti-tank missile attack on a school bus that killed 16-yearold Daniel Viflic. Iron Dome succeeded in intercepting eight rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.
“The presence of the Iron Dome provided a response by intercepting the rockets and gave the leadership room to maneuver and make decisions without being under public pressure,” he said.