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US, Israel to hold joint missile defence drill

An Israeli and U.S flag fly in the Negev desert during a joint USA-Israeli air defence exercise in 2003, Israel. File Photo

JERUSALEM (BNS): Israel and its closest ally US will test three different ballistic missile defence (BMD) systems in an unprecedented joint exercise later this year to thwart any danger emanating from Iran's pursuit for nuclear capability, the media here reported.

The exercise, called 'Juniper Cobra', will be held in Israel and will include the newly developed Arrow 2, as well as America's THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System. The test will likely include the launching of interceptors from these systems, as reported by the ‘Jerusalem Post’.

The Israel Air Force's Air Defense Division, the US Missile Defense Agency and the US Military's European Command (EUCOM) have held the Juniper Cobra exercise for the past five years. The upcoming exercise, though, is planned to be the most complex and extensive yet.

"The Juniper Cobra exercise between EUCOM and the IDF will be the fifth and most complex exercise yet designed," Missile Defense Agency director Lt.-Gen. Patrick J. O'Reilly told the subcommittee.

Israeli defence officials said that the purpose of the exercise was to create the necessary infrastructure that would enable interoperability between Israeli and American BMD systems in case the US government decided to deploy these systems here in the event of a conflict with Iran, like it did ahead of the Gulf War in Iraq in 1991.

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