Some 4,500 soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces and the U.S. Armed Forces are completing their final preparations before the launch of this year’s mammoth joint military exercise, ‘Juniper Cobra 2018.’
The air defense drill, involving 2,500 recruits from the U.S. European Command (US EUCOM) and 2,000 more from the IDF is set to run from March 4-15, although some of the U.S. troops will remain in Israel until the end of March for further training.
“The Juniper Cobra exercises continue to strengthen this relationship, providing us with the opportunity to bolster interoperability and develop seamless integration with our Israeli partners,” said Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, commander of the US Third Air Force, who will lead the American delegation.
The exercise this year involves a multi-front ballistic missile attack from Iran against Israel via advanced computer simulations plus additional other activities.
The threat of such an attack against Israel, however, is not theoretical: the Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrilla group backed by Iran possesses an arsenal of approximately 150,000 missiles of varying ranges – enough to easily fire at Israel at a rate of 1,000 per day in the next war.
“The Juniper Cobra 2018 exercise is another step in improving the readiness of the IDF and air force for battle and for facing the ballistic threat,” said Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovitch, the head of Israeli air defenses.
The air force crews of both Israel and the United States will train on the long-range Arrow and Patriot air defense systems as well as the medium-range David’s Sling and short-range Iron Dome air defense systems, the IDF said. This will be the first use of the David’s Sling system in a ‘Juniper Cobra’ exercise.