(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Juniper Cobra 16, a massive joint Israeli-American air defense exercise, is scheduled to culminate next week with a simulation of a wide-scale missile strike on Israel.
Israeli Air Force officials declined to elaborate on the exact nature of the scenarios included in the drill, saying only that “all relevant scenarios” were being considered.
Planned nearly 18 months in advance, Juniper Cobra 16 is the latest in the series of biennial, five-day combined air defense drills that have been held by the American and Israeli air forces since 2001.
As part of the exercise, more than 1,700 American soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines are training alongside some 1,500 Israeli Air Defense Command personnel. The drill includes Israel’s Arrow, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome defense systems, as well as several American defense systems, such as the Aegis missile system, the THAAD (terminal high altitude area defense) anti-ballistic missile system, and Patriot PAC-3 battery launchers.
U.S. 3rd Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, who heads the U.S.-Israel Joint Task Force for Air and Missile Defense, and Commander of Israel’s Air Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovich briefed reporters on the drill Thursday.
“This is our nation’s premier exercise in this region. It’s EUCOM’s (U.S. European Command) highest priority exercise in 2016,” Ray said, Defense News reported.
“The purpose of this exercise is to improve interoperability of our air defense forces and our combined ability to defend against air and missile attacks. Our presence and participation here increases military readiness...and just as importantly, it signals our resolve to support Israel and strive for peace in the Middle East,” he said.