Eyeing Iran, Israel tests missile defenses with U.S.
The two-week biennial drill will include a simulation of an Iranian missile attack on Israel.
Israel and the United States launched a major air defense drill on Wednesday which will include a preparation for a faceoff with Iran.
During the two-week maneuvers, dubbed Juniper Cobra, some 1,000 American personnel will mesh ground- and ship-based missile interceptors like the Aegis, THAAD and Patriot with Israel's Arrow II ballistic shield, defense officials said.
The drill's main scenario will be an Iranian missile attack on Israel. In the scenario, American units come to Israel's aid in order to strengthen the IDF's missile defense system.
Israel, which is assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, has hinted it could resort to force to prevent its arch-foe attaining the means to threaten its existence.
As part of the drill framework, rescue units of the Home Front Command will practice a quick response to a missile attack on Israel's home front. They will also simulate an attack of missiles with unconventional warheads on the missile batteries and will perform purification exercises on them.
The United States and other world powers are trying to talk Tehran into giving up nuclear technologies with bomb-making potential, while the Israelis watch warily from the sidelines.
But some analysts believe that tactical limitations, and U.S. misgivings about pre-emptive strikes, may compel Israel to accept a more defensive posture with the help of its top ally.
Iran denies seeking the bomb and has threatened to retaliate for any attack by firing its medium-range missiles at Israel.
The drill will take place Thursday in central Israel.