Israel and the United States plan to hold a major ballistic missile defense exercise later this year called Juniper Cobra. The maneuver will jointly test three different American and Israeli missile defense systems.

Israeli defense officials said Monday the exercise is necessary to create a joint missile defense infrastructure in the event of a conflict with Iran akin to what existed in 1991, when American Patriot batteries shot down inbound Iraqi Scuds.

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

The exercise will include the newly developed Arrow 2 ballistic missile defense system as well as America’s THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.

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U.S. Missile Defense Agency director Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly mentioned these plans during testimony that he provided to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense two weeks ago.

“The Juniper Cobra exercise between EUCOM and the IDF will be the fifth and most complex exercise yet designed,” Lt. Gen. O’Reilly told the subcommittee.

Last week, the Israeli Air Force held its 17th test of its Arrow 2 interceptor, shooting down a missile mimicking an Iranian Shihab ballistic missile.

In his extensive testimony, Lt. Gen. O’Reilly also revealed that in February the Israel’s David’s Sling missile defense system underwent a successful “booster fly-out” test. The exercise involved the successful launching of the jointly designed missile system, which is intended to intercept medium-range missiles at ranges of between 43 and 155 miles.

Amid mounting fears that the funding for the Arrow will be cut, Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak plans today to meet with U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., who serves as the chair of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, responsible for approving the funding for the continued development of the Arrow 3.

Ms. Lowey has arrived in Israel as part of a congressional delegation.

Israel is hoping to secure $150 million from the U.S. government to continue development of the system by Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.