The United States Army has deployed its most advanced air and missile defense system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system at the Nevatim Air Base in the Negev, U.S. and Israeli military officials announced Monday. The system is built by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.
The @US_EUCOM is currently conducting a missile defense system (THAAD) exercise deployment in Israel, which is part of US efforts to implement its operational concept & mission to assist in Israel’s aerial defense. pic.twitter.com/e9z3vOLiJv
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) March 4, 2019
The deployment of the THAAD came as part of a joint military drill involving more than 200 Israeli and American troops. It is to be moved to an undisclosed location in southern Israel in the coming days, officials said.
“Deployment of the American anti-missile system in Israel is additional testimony to the commitment of the U.S. to the security of Israel,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The American THAAD system is considered one of the most advanced systems in the world, and together with our defensive systems we are even stronger in order to deal with near and distant threats from throughout the Middle East. The bond between the U.S. and Israel has never been stronger. I welcome this joint exercise,” he added.
“The deployment of this American system in Israel emphasizes the U.S.’s commitment to the defense and security of Israel,” the IDF Spokesperson said in a statement. “It‘s also an opportunity for the IDF to practice integrating advanced American air defense systems into the IAF Air Defense Array.
“The IDF is grateful for this exercise and stands ready to protect Israel’s airspace and civilians against a variety of threats from near and far. This is a defensive deployment that is not related to any specific current event,” he added.
The decision by the U.S. to rapidly move the system to Israel came in the face of increased tensions between Israel and Iran and was intended “as a demonstration of the United States’ continued commitment to Israel’s regional security,” said a spokesperson for the U.S. European Command.
“THAAD is the most advanced integrated air and missile defense system in the world, and this deployment readiness exercise demonstrates that U.S. forces are agile and can respond quickly and unpredictably to any threat, anywhere, at any time.”
U.S. forces are to be stationed in Israel, Europe and the United States to operate the system in close cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces as part of its deployment, the U.S. European Command said.