Jerusalem/Washington, Apr.14 (ANI): Israel and the United States will hold an unprecedented and massive exercise later this year to jointly test three different ballistic missile defense systems, The Jerusalem Post has learned. 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 Defense System.
The test will likely include the launching of interceptors from these systems.
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.
News of the scheduled exercise was revealed in testimony Missile Defense Agency director Lt.-Gen. Patrick J. O'Reilly gave to the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on defense earlier this month.
Israeli defense officials said Monday 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.
The first intercept test of the system, O'Reilly said, is scheduled to take place in 2010.
O'Reilly also told the subcommittee that the Missile Defense Agency supported the development and US funding of Israel's Arrow 3, the future of which is currently undecided since US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced extensive cuts to the US defense budget last week. (ANI)