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Israel, US troops train together to counter missile threats

AP  |  Hatzor Air Base (Israel) 

If war breaks out in the Middle East, US and Israeli forces are preparing to one day fight alongside one another to defend against missile attacks from across the region.

Nearly 5,000 Israeli and American troops have been training together in for that very scenario. The "Juniper Cobra" exercise includes field training, computer simulations and live-fire drills of sophisticated

"We will practice, train shoulder to shoulder, the same as we will fight in crisis times," Zvika Haimovich, of Israel's air defence command, told reporters at a briefing at the dusty in southern

Israel has made missile defence a priority since Iraqi leader bombarded the country with 39 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 Gaza's rulers have a vast arsenal of rockets, and 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 and other militant groups in have fired thousands of rockets into Israel from the south.

Last month, Israel intercepted an Iranian drone launched from during a clash that caused an Israeli warplane to crash, and Israel shot down a Syrian anti-aircraft missile last year.

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.)

First Published: Fri, March 09 2018. 02:55 IST