Israeli, US hold joint military drill

Tel Aviv: The US and Israeli military officials said on Thursday they have launched a month-long joint military drill that simulates a missile attack on Israel.

The “Juniper Cobra 2018” exercise was launched on Sunday, Xinhua quoted a military spokesperson as saying. He added that it was the largest drill of its kind.

The biennial drill is jointly held by the Israeli military and the US European Command (USEUCOM).

As part of the exercise, some 2,500 US troops routinely based in Europe were deployed in Israel as well as about 2,000 Israeli Aerial Defence troops, logistics units, medical forces and other Israel Defence Forces (IDF) units.

“For more than four weeks, they will train shoulder to shoulder, the same as we will fight in times of crisis. It’s not just about an exercise,” Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, Israel’s air defence commander, said.

The exercise simulates a scenario in which Israel is being attacked on several fronts, including by precision-guided ballistic missiles from Iran.

Two US vessels arrived in Israel to participate in the drill. On Tuesday, the USS Iwo Jima took position off the coast of Israel. On Thursday, the Mount Whitney command and control ship docked at the Haifa port, the spokesperson said.

Aboard it, there were more than 500 servicemen and women, half of them from the senior command of the US sixth fleet.

It is the ninth Cobra exercise that has taken place.

A military notice said that the participators are performing together computerized simulations of a variety of rocket threat scenarios in different regions.

The simulations include testing of the anti-ballistic missile system Arrow, Iron Dome anti-rocket system, the medium-range interceptor Patriot missile system, and David’s Sling, which was designed to intercept medium-range missiles from southern Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants and became operational in April 2017.