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 firstname.lastname@example.org