US and Israeli military forces begin a massive joint military exercise, dubbed Juniper Cobra, in Israel, according to Israeli officials.
Some 1,000 US troops from the United States European Command are now in Israel to take part in the biennial drill, Xinhua quoted Israeli radio as reporting.
Tel Aviv claims the five-day drill is aimed at preparing Israel for military responses to missile attacks against it.
Israeli missile systems of Iron Dome (short-range missile interceptor), David’s Sling (medium range) and the Arrow (long range) are to be tested in the exercise. The three missile systems have been either jointly developed or financed by the United States.
Israeli daily Haaretz reported that two US warships, stationed at the Mediterranean Sea, will also take part in the military maneuver. The ships are equipped with the technology used to intercept missiles.
The drill is held a week after the US Secretary of Defense visited Israel. During the two-day trip, Chuck Hagel reviewed preparations for the maneuver.
“The exercise will employ Israel’s entire rocket and ballistic missile architecture, including Iron Dome, Arrow, and David’s Sling: assets that the United States is proud to have helped Israel finance and develop,” Hagel said.
He also described the exercise as the largest drill for US troops under the European Command.