US military forces have begun arriving in Israel to take part in the largest joint missile defense exercise of its kind, which will begin next week.
One thousand American soldiers will arrive on Israeli territory, and a further 2,000 US troops in Europe and the United States will take part via remote defense computing systems. An equal number of Israeli soldiers will be involved.
During the drill, named Austere Challenge 12, Israeli air defense systems, such as the Iron Dome anti-rocket shield and Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile batteries, will be deployed, as well as US and Israeli Patriot batteries. American naval ships carrying the Aegis combat system, which can intercept missiles, will take part, and at least one US Navy ship will dock at Haifa.
The IDF and the US military’s European Command will set up missile defense batteries across Israel. Most of the drill will involve computer simulations of incoming rockets, though in the last stage, a Patriot will be fired at a mock enemy projectile.
“Anyone can take away any message they want from this,” said the IDF’s Brig-Gen. Nitzan Nuriel, who is heading the Israeli side of the exercise. “The fact that we are working together is a strong message by itself,” he added.