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Israel, U.S. Launch Large-Scale Missile Defense Drill

TEL AVIV – Israel and the United States on Sunday launched Juniper Cobra 16, their biennial ballistic missile defense exercise, the IDF announced.

This is the eighth year the IDF and U.S. EUCOM have held the defense exercise, designed to teach both armies to collaborate more effectively, according to a statement released by the IDF.

Preparations for the drill began more than a year ago and it is not related to any specific events or developments in the region.

Over 1,700 U.S. Service members, civilians, and contractors will participate in the multi-day drill.

“During the exercise, increased military activity may be noted,” the IDF warned.

The Times of Israel reported that the U.S. has financed and jointly developed all three tiers of Israel’s missile defense program — Iron Dome (short-range missile interceptor), David’s Sling (medium range), and Arrow (long range).

“This exercise is our nation’s premier exercise in the region, and EUCOM’s highest priority exercise for 2016,” said Maj.-Gen. Mark Loeben, Director of Exercises and Assessments at Headquarters for U.S. EUCOM.

“Support for Israel’s defense has been an integral part of U.S. policy in the region for decades, and this exercise has, and will continue, to directly support that policy,” Loeben added.

“This exercise is a significant milestone in the strategic relationship between the two countries, a security alliance unmatched by any other country in the world,” Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich, head of Israel’s Aerial Defense Division, said. “This collaboration reflects a commitment to protecting civilian lives as well as a deep appreciation of the IDF, IAF, and the Aerial Defense System.”

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