Israel, US gear up for large-scale missile defense drill
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Israel, US gear up for large-scale missile defense drill

IDF will host biennial Juniper Cobra exercise to ‘improve cooperation and coordination’ with American counterpart

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Then-US secretary of defense Chuck Hagel speaks to Israeli and US soldiers during a joint exercise called Juniper Cobra 14, May 2014. (Matty Stern/US Embassy/Flash90)
Then-US secretary of defense Chuck Hagel speaks to Israeli and US soldiers during a joint exercise called Juniper Cobra 14, May 2014. (Matty Stern/US Embassy/Flash90)

Israel and the United States will train together against the threat of a ballistic missile attack this month, the IDF announced on Saturday.

The exercise, named Juniper Cobra, is held every two years and is meant to prepare the two militaries for the threat of a missile attack, as well as allowing the armies to learn how to better work together.

Details of the exercise have yet to be released and will likely only come out when Juniper Cobra begins late this month, an IDF spokesperson said.

“This exercise is designed to improve cooperation and coordination between militaries,” the army said in a statement, stressing that the exercise is not in response to any particular threat or country.

“These exercises, which are in the context of a long-standing strategic partnership, are planned in advance as part of a routine training cycle designed to improve cooperation. Such exercises contribute to the IDF’s qualitative military edge,” the IDF said in its statement.

In 2014, the last time the exercise was held, thousands of soldiers from both armies took part in the five-day event, which included computer-assisted simulations of a missile attack.

“The combination of the most technologically advanced weapons systems on the ground, in the sea and in space, professional soldiers from both forces and the combined use of both militaries’ doctrines help us achieve the goals of the exercise and finish with impressive results,” Brig. Gen. Shachar Shohat, head of the IDF’s Air Defense Command, said during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Juniper Cobra exercise.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter embraces Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, facing forward, at the National Defense University in Washington, DC on October 27, 2015. (AFP/YURI GRIPAS)
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter embraces Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, facing forward, at the National Defense University in Washington, DC on October 27, 2015. (AFP/YURI GRIPAS)

The US has either jointly developed or financed all three tiers in Israel’s missile defense program — Iron Dome (short-range missile interceptor), David’s Sling (medium range) and Arrow (long range).

“The exercise will employ Israel’s entire rocket and ballistic missile architecture, including Iron Dome, Arrow, and David’s Sling: assets that the United States is proud to have helped Israel finance and develop,” then-US defense secretary Chuck Hagel said at the start of the 2014 exercise.

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