The Israeli and US militaries are in the midst of a large-scale missile-defense exercise, designed to simulate responses to a Middle East war on multiple fronts.
The scenario at the center of the planned, biannual drill involves Israel coming under heavy enemy fire from several directions simultaneously.
The Juniper Cobra 18 exercise, which has been held since 2001, practices the rapid deployment of American air-defense units and equipment to Israel from Europe in the event of armed conflict. It also rehearses the integration of US capabilities into Israel’s air-defense layers.
Some 2,500 American personnel are taking part in the endeavor. Most were mobilized to Israel, while some stayed in Europe and the United States. Around 2,000 IDF personnel are taking part as well. The United States European Command, based in Germany, also sent a number of American air-defense systems to Israel.
The exercise costs millions of dollars, and takes two years to plan. The commanders declined to provide specific details on the threat scenarios they were simulating — but the general scenario they described would appear to outline a war involving Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas firing heavy barrages of rockets and missiles on Israeli cities and towns.
The first part of the drill involves computer simulations, in which Israeli and American air-defense systems are linked to one another, and practice shooting down computer-generated threats. In the second stage, live-fire targets will be shot down by US and Israeli Patriot systems, and by an Israeli Iron Dome battery.
Israel is fielding all of its air-defense systems in the exercise. These include Iron Dome; the recently deployed David’s Sling system, designed to intercept medium- and long-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles; and the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems, which intercept missile threats in the atmosphere and in space, respectively.