The IDF has completed a joint drill of the Patriot and Iron Dome missile defense systems, successfully intercepting targets at high altitudes and different ranges Tuesday night off of Israel’s coast.
The drill was held at the base in the center of the country, and included various scenarios aimed at testing the readiness of troops in Aerial Defense Division and their systems, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said, adding that the exercise was part of the annual training schedule.“The Israel Air Force successfully concluded a period of training and experiments, in parallel to operational readiness and high alertness to defend the skies of Israel,” read the statement released by the military.According to a senior officer in the Israeli Air Force, the drill saw the interception of several live missiles and included other targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles.“Nowhere else in the world do you fire so many live missiles in one night during a drill,” the senior officer said. “We are challenging ourselves.”Two foreign militaries also visited the drill, the senior officer said, adding that the delegations came to observe and draw conclusions from the results of the drill as well as to take part in a panel discussion on professional cooperation between all three militaries.“Our enemy is learning, and is definitely getting better and is getting more challenging… but so are we,” he said, adding that nevertheless, there is no hermetic protection.Israel has three Patriot system batteries and has used them against suspicious aerial vehicles, including shooting down a Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet which infiltrated into Israel’s northern Golan Heights last year. The other air defense systems used by Israel include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets; the Arrow system, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere; and the David’s Sling missile defense system, designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 to 300 km.In early April the IDF concluded the first ever practical deployment of the American THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system to Israel.The missile defense system was deployed to Israel in early March as well as 250 American personnel belonging to the US European Command (EUCOM) as part of a joint drill between the two allies.The THAAD is designed to protect against hostile incoming threats such as tactical and theatre ballistic missiles at ranges of 200km and altitudes of up to 150km intercepting exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric missiles.During the drill the THAAD system, which is considered one of the most advanced systems of its kind in the world, the two militaries practiced a variety of scenarios as well as the ability to integrate it into the IAF Air Defense Array.Both Israel and the United States remain concerned that Iran has continued to work on both its nuclear program as well as its ballistic missile program despite international criticism and new US sanctions placed on Iran meant to pressure it over its military activity in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program.The Islamic Republic possesses over 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and has the ability to proliferate weapons to countries and non-state actors, such as Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Iran recently unveiled a new generation of short-range Fateh missiles called the Al-Mobeen, or “The Divine Conquest,” which is said to have a range of 300-500 km. Washington and Israel have signed an agreement which would see the US come to assist Israel with missile defense in times of war.
The IDF Patriot and Iron Dome drill (Credit: IDF Spokesperson"s Unit)