TEL AVIV – The United States and Israel successfully conducted a “milestone” exercise in which both countries’ missile defense systems were tested against a simulated attack of thousands of rockets fired from Lebanon and Iran, the Defense Ministry announced Wednesday.
The “Integrated Ground Test” took place on both U.S. and Israeli soil and involved six missile defense systems, including Arrow 2, Arrow 3, David’s Sling, Aegis, Patriot, and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). The Iron Dome system, which became famous during Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza, was not included in the simulation.
The ministry said the test marked “another milestone in the missile defense program.”
Col. S. of the IMDO told Ynet that the goal was to test the systems’ ability to work in tandem until the point of interception, without launching the missiles, explaining, “We had one Israeli eye and one American eye on all of the targets at the same time, so we could see and operate better.”
All of the systems used to defend against medium- and long-range rockets were used in the exercise, the ministry said.
“During the test, scenarios consisting of multiple missile and rocket attacks were simulated against Israel with both United States and Israel successfully employing, engaging, and destroying the simulated incoming threats,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“The David’s Sling missile defense system, which was recently delivered to the [Israeli] Air Force, participated in the drill as part of its transition to becoming operational,” the statement continued.
The tests were carried out by Elisra, a subsidiary of the Israeli Elbit Systems weapons company, under the auspices of the Israeli Missile Defense Organization, the American Missile Defense Agency, and the U.S. European Command.
Israel’s missile defense program has been at the center of contention in recent months in discussions regarding U.S. military aid. Negotiations to include the funding of missile defense systems as an integral part of aid agreements are ongoing, with the White House and Congress at loggerheads over proposed annual increases.
The New York Times reported that the next 10-year deal could top $40 billion. The disagreements stem in part from President Barack Obama’s view that the Iran deal bolstered Israel’s security while Israeli officials believe that the deal only raised the threat.