The United States and Israel will hold a major missile defense exercise in coming October, after postponing it earlier this year, the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Friday.
The “Austere Challenge 12” drill, which is designed to improve defense systems and cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli forces, was postponed earlier for what Israel said was “technical” reasons, the Jerusalem Post reported on Friday.
The exercise is designed to test multiple Israeli and U.S. air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets .
The U.S. is expected to bring its THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and ship-based Aegis ballistic missile defense systems to Israel to simulate the interception of missile salvos against Israel from Iran and Syria. U.S. missile defense systems would be able to work with Israel’s missile defense systems – the Arrow, Patriot and Iron Dome during a conflict.
Around 3,000 American soldiers and 2,000 Israeli soldiers will participate in the exercises.
Recently, Craig Franklin, Commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, has visited Israel in preparation for the training and to discuss the U.S. support for an Israeli multi-layered missile system, the Israeli newspaper reported.
It is worth mentioning that the two countries held the war games of similar scale three years ago. In the autumn of 2009, more than a thousand U.S. Army servicemen helped the Israelis service antiaircraft batteries and drilled in a joint action of the two countries’ troops to deal with a likely military conflict in the region.
Separately, Israeli army entered al-Aqaba village in the occupied West Bank on Friday night and conducted live-fire training exercises. Later on that night the soldiers fire rifle ammunition and launch rockets into the air in between people's homes till late night. The villagers have not been able to sleep due to the shooting and bombing.
The Palestine News and Info Agency (WAFA) reported that the Israeli army started, several days ago, a series of military drills in the area, and on the surrounding its hills and meadows, using live ammunition and even artillery.