If war breaks out in the Middle East, US and Israeli forces are preparing to one day fight alongside one another to defend Israel against missile attacks from across the region.
Nearly 5,000 Israeli and American troops have been training together in Israel for that very scenario. The "Juniper Cobra" exercise includes field training, computer simulations and live-fire drills of sophisticated missile-defence systems.
"We will practice, train shoulder to shoulder, the same as we will fight in crisis times," Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, chief of Israel's air defence command, told reporters at a briefing at the dusty Hatzor air base in southern Israel.
Israel has made missile defence a priority since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein bombarded the country with 39 Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War.
Today, the threat is far more formidable. The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is now believed to possess well over 100,000 rockets and missiles capable of striking virtually anywhere in Israel.
Hezbollah and Iranian forces are also active in neighbouring Syria, backing President Bashar Assad. Gaza's Hamas rulers have a vast arsenal of rockets, and Iran has developed long-range missiles that can reach Israel.
These threats are concrete. Hezbollah rained some 4,000 rockets into Israel during a month-long war in 2006, while Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza have fired thousands of rockets into Israel from the south.
Haimovich said Juniper Cobra is not aimed at any particular adversary. Instead, it is meant to simulate "very complex scenarios" that include simultaneous attacks from enemy countries and militant groups.
"We practice that because this is a real scenario," he said.
He said the threats include multiple salvos, more accurate rockets and missiles and a "multi-directional threat." "Those are our main assumptions," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's from south, north, east or others."
Israel, in cooperation with the US, has developed a multilayer system of missile defence. This includes the "Arrow" system, which can intercept long-range missiles before they enter the atmosphere, the "David's Sling" system for medium-range threats and the "Iron Dome," which has been successful at intercepting short-range rocket fire. Israel also uses the American-made "Patriot" system.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)