US and Israel to hold largest ever joint military exercise

By AARON KALMAN

Israel and the US are set to hold their largest ever joint military exercise in October, featuring thousands of soldiers and advanced anti-missile defense systems, and simulating simultaneous fire from Iran and Syria.

News of the drill comes amid ongoing violence in Syria, and with Israel and the US closely discussing the means to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive. The commander of the 3rd Air Force, Lt.-Gen.Craig A. Franklin, on a recent visit to Israel, established a planning committee with representatives of the IDF to coordinate the details of the exercise, the Maariv Hebrew daily reported Monday. Some 3,000 US soldiers are to participate, alongside thousands of Israeli troops.

The drill will simulate missiles being fired at Israel from Iran and Syria simultaneously, with potentially tens, if not hundreds, of rockets mid-air at the same time. Israel will test its upgraded Arrow 2 defense system, while the US will deploy the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System andPAC-3 Patriot air defense platforms.

According to Maariv, some military analysts have nicknamed the exercise a “dress rehearsal” for a potential military conflict, noting that it will send a clear message to Iran at a time during which the impact of international sanctions, or lack thereof, will be clearer.

News of the drill comes shortly after talks between world powers and Iran regarding Tehran’s nuclear program broke up without progress in Moscow.

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