With tensions high along the northern border, the Defense Ministry hosted the annual US-Israeli Defense Policy Advisory Group (DPAG) and discussed strategic and regional security challenges.Held over the past two days via secure video-conference due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, it was led by cochairmen head of the Defense Ministry Policy and Political-Military Bureau, Zohar Palti, and US Acting Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy James Anderson, the Defense Ministry said, adding that they were joined by senior military officials from both countries. During the sessions, the two sides discussed strategic and regional security challenges and focused on Iran and its malign regional activity as well as its nuclear project.The two also discussed the overall defense cooperation and military interoperability of the two allies. The Israeli side also presented the main points of the IDF’s plans regarding force build-up and defense acquisitions under the Memorandum of Understanding over the next few years, with emphasis on aerial platforms.Israel remains keen on maintaining its qualitative edge and increasing the IDF’s offensive capabilities while the air force is currently examining the option of buying a force mix of advanced versions of the F-15 to replace the older fighters currently being used in addition to another F-35 squadron.The IAF is also in discussions to replace its aging tanker fleet and Yasur transport helicopters.“DPAG serves as the primary platform for senior DOD-MOD officials to jointly advance the US-Israel defense partnership,” the statement read, adding that Anderson and Palti “reaffirmed the ironclad strategic defense partnership between the US and Israel, and underscored the importance of constant cooperation on all levels as a force multiplier.”Also on Thursday, the IDF announced that IAF officers, led by Brig-Gen. Ran Kochav, commander of the IAF Air Defense Division, spoke with representatives of the United States European Command over video-conference and signed a document “defining the joint activity of the air defense systems of the two countries during an emergency in Israel,” the military said.The sessions were held a week after US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley landed in Israel and met with Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Mossad Director Yossi Cohen.Milley, who landed at the Nevatim air base in the South, discussed the ongoing threats posed by Iran and the various security challenges in the region. He also received an intelligence briefing from the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate Maj.-Gen. Tamir Hayman and a strategic review from the head of the recently opened Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate Maj.-Gen. Tal Kalman.