U.S., Israel to hold joint drill

Oct. 6, 2009 at 7:32 AM
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JERUSALEM, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. air defense systems and warships arrived in Israel ahead of a joint drill to simulate an incoming Iranian missile attack, officials said.

The drill, the biannual Juniper Cobra drill, begins next week and sends a "loud and clear" message to Iran, a senior Israeli military officer told Maariv Tuesday. He added the pending arrival of a top U.S. Army general to oversee the joint exercise signifies its importance.

In recent weeks, U.S. military transport planes loaded with air defense systems have landed at Israeli Air Force bases and 15 warships have docked at ports, the paper said.

In recent days, Israeli Air Force officials have met with their American counterparts from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and discussed the coordination and regulations to be maintained during the drill, the paper said.

Officials are also discussing the possibility the United States may leave three Patriot missile defense systems in Israel when the drill is over, The Jerusalem Post said.

The biannual Juniper Cobra exercises have been conducted by the two countries since 2000, and are designed to integrate missile and air defense systems.

Last month, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said while it is clear sanctions are the best option to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, Israel has the right to defend itself.

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