Israel, U.S. wind up missile defense exercise

Israeli and visiting U.S. forces carried out air-defense exercise aimed at testing new ways of intercepting missiles capable of carrying nuclear, chemical and biological warheads, American and Israeli military officials said.

Israel, U.S. wind up missile defense exercise

Israeliand visiting U.S. forces carried out air-defense exercise aimed at testing newways of intercepting missiles capable of carrying nuclear, chemical andbiological warheads, American and Israeli military officials said.

The exercise, which began on Sunday and ended on Tuesday, took place in thesouthern Negev Desert.

This is the fourth time the two allies have conducted the joint exercise,dubbed "Juniper Cobra," which is held every two years.

Taking part in the exercise were the U.S. Army's 69th Air Defense ArtilleryBrigade and the Israeli Air Force's Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Israel's Haaretznewspaper reported.
"It is a computer simulation exercise designed to test the interoperability ofthe air defense system," said Stewart Tuttle, the U.S. Embassy spokesmanin Tel Aviv, who declined to provide details. "The air defense can protectyou against whatever happens to be on the warhead."

Military officials said the tests involved Israeli's Arrow anti-ballisticmissile and its U.S.-made Patriot PAC-2.

U.S.forces also tested the capabilities of the PAC-3 system.

According to Haaretz, this year's exercise marks the first timethat Israelhas tested the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, acounterpart to the Arrow, which destroys incoming missiles in the atmosphere.

According to Haaretz, no missiles were fired during the exercisebecause "of constraints associated with last summer's war in Lebanon war and U.S. deployments."

The newspaper quoted an Israeli defense official as saying live-fireinteroperability exercises would resume in Juniper Cobra in 2009.

The United States is Israel'sclosest ally, providing about $2.2 billion a year in military assistance andcoordinating many aspects of defense policy.

Both Israel and the U.S. accuse Iranof seeking to develop atomic weapons that could be mounted on long-rangemissiles, despite Tehran'sinsistence that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes.

However, American and Israeli officials said the timing of the exercise wasroutine and unrelated to their fears over Iran's nuclear plans.

They also said the operation was carried out on a reduced scale, with fewertroops and advanced computer simulations -- rather than live-fire drills -- ofanti-missile systems.

"Given the regional situation, especially with Iran, and other factors, we haveopted for a much lower profile than previously," an Israeli securitysource said on condition of anonymity.

The Israeli army refused to discuss Juniper Cobra in details, saying in astatement that it is "part of a routine training cycle designed tovalidate interoperability of air defense systems."

The Iranian nuclear standoff has stirred speculation that Israel or the U.S.could attack Tehran's nuclear facilities, a movethat for which Iranvowed to retaliate.

Israel, which is assumedto have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, considers Iran its mostserious strategic threat.

And the United States,which deployed two navy aircraft carrier strike groups in the Gulf region,hasn't ruled out using force against Iran, but claims that it wants toresolve the nuclear standoff through diplomacy.
Some analysts believe that the now trying to provoke Iraninto an action Washingtoncould use as an excuse for an attack.

Correspondents say the fact that there are now two U.S. excuses for a strike against Iran – the nuclear program and Washington'sallegations that Tehranis aiding the Iraqi resistance – is a concern for Iranian people. 

Military experts and Middle East analyst have warned of the catastrophicconsequences for any military action against Iran.

A recent report by a coalition of British charities, faith groups and unionswarned that any attack against Iranwould be "highly dangerous" and "counter-productive".

Source: Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16