Anti-aircraft units from the U.S. Army and the Israel Defense Forces will hold an extensive joint anti-aircraft exercise in Israel. The forces will practice the coordinated operation of anti-aircraft systems including the Arrow anti-ballistic intercepter missile and the Patriot missile air defense batteries.
The exercise, code-named Juniper Cobra, is scheduled to run from March 10 until mid-April. It will examine the extent of coordination between the two sides in various attack scenarios. The exercises will also test air defense systems at different heights, with the Arrow providing protection at great heights and the Patriot at lower heights.
Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops will participate in the computer-assisted and limited live-fire exercise. Of the total U.S. force, about 500 soldiers with the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade based at Giebelstadt Army Airfield in Germany and the brigade’s two Patriot battalions will take part in the exercise. The brigade’s Patriot battalions are the 5th Battalion, 7th ADA in Hanau, and the 6th Battalion, 52nd ADA headquartered in Ansbach. The remaining U.S. force, both active-duty and reserve, is composed of Navy and various communications and logistics support elements from the States and Europe.
Officials denied any connection between the exercise and current events in the region. Prior Juniper Cobra exercises were held at times of tension in January 2003 (when American troops and materials were being deployed to the Middle East in preparation for Operation Iraqi Freedom) and February 2001 (coinciding with an Israeli election and ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence), but Army officials said the exercises had been planned a year in advance and were unrelated to events.