US-Israel drill simulates missile attacks from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza

The US and Israel launched Operation Juniper Cobra 10, the biggest missile defense exercise of their regular biennial drills, on Wednesday Oct. 21. Taking part in the two-week drill are 1,000 military personnel on each side. According to US military sources, the exercise which simulates the advanced capabilities of shared air defense systems, sends a message to Tehran that America will support Israel’s defenses in attacks from Iran or its allies in the region.
The great importance Washington attaches to the drill is underscored by the appointment of US Sixth Fleet chief Adm. Mark Fitzgerald as joint commander, especially as it takes place weeks after President Barack Obama scrapped US plans to deploy missile interception systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. They are to be replaced with a missile shield tailored to handle short- and medium-range missiles, which constitute the bulk of Iran’s arsenal and are carried in the first stage by warships.
The American Navy’s AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense systems and advanced radar are taking part in Juniper Cobra aboard a fleet of 17 US warships docked in Israel’s naval ports for the exercise. American and Israeli radar stations are strung along the Israeli coast to spot dummy missiles launched from sea to test their intercept performance.
On Sept. 16, American Galaxy transports airlifted in batteries of Patriot and THAAD anti-missile systems and military vehicles for the exercise. Israel’s Arrow 2 Theater Ballistic Missile Defense System and Patriot anti-missile missiles are also taking part in the drill.
A senior Israel officer said Tuesday night that the ability of X-band radar technology to detect incoming missiles at a distance of hundreds of kilometers will have its first test. X-band radar was installed last year in a US military compound at the Israeli Air Force Nevatim base in the Negev.
Until the drill ends on Nov. 3, roads running south will be closed at intervals as hardware is moved around in accordance with simulated enemy missile attacks.

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